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Live Out Loud Fundraiser Celebrates Same-Sex Couples who Tied the Knot

One year after the Gay Marriage Act passes in New York, long-time couples explain what being legally able to get married has meant to them.

At Live Out Loud’s fouth annual fundraiser on Saturday, the one-year anniversary of same-sex marriage passed by New York State was at the forefront. 

The with cocktails, music, a dance performance, dinner, and a silent auction to raise money for the non-profit organization that empowers lesbian, gay, bi, and transgender students through positive role models and educational scholarships.

Live Out Loud promotes awareness by bringing members of the LGBT community into public schools to speak about their coming out experience and career accomplishments.  Scholarships are offered to high school seniors, and according to David Cantor, a volunteer for the organization, the amounts are increasing each year.  There were five scholarship recipients this year, awarded at $5,000 a piece.

This year, several couples, who recently exercised their legal right to marry, were celebrated at the event. Last summer's fundraiser happened to fall on the day after the amendment to allow gay marriage was passed in New York State Senate on June 26, which . It became legal for same-sex couples to marry as of July 24, 2011. 

Emil Sanzari, 80, and George Erson, 82, met in mid-April of 1965 at the Candy Store, a jazz club in Manhattan, and have been together ever since.  After 47 years, they married on April 14 at in East Hampton. The couple lives in East Hampton and Manhattan.

“We have been advocates of gay rights from before Stonewall. When we finally were freed to marry legally in New York, we said, 'We must do it because we fought for it for so long',” Sanzari said. 

While Erson feels marriage hasn’t changed them at all, they both wanted to do it.  “I feel changed that my choice has been recognized, and it’s wonderful to be among the free,” Sanzari added.  Lots of family attended the wedding and danced up a storm, they reported.

Beverly Dash and Debra Lobel, both 74 and residents of East Hampton, met in college, and have been together 54 years.  They were married in Connecticut on their 52nd anniversary, the Friday before Labor Day in 2010. “We waited for New York, and waited, and gave up and went to Connecticut,” said Lobel.  “Now we’re part of society . . . We’re not second class citizens anymore,” said Dash.

Carole Gill, 75, and Doris Theiler, 81, of East Hampton and Manhattan, have known each other for at least 37 years, and have been together for 11. They were married on October 30, 2011.  Gill was previously married, and has grandchildren.

“Everybody is so happy for us. It’s a whole different world, and everyone thinks it’s perfectly OK,” she said. 

“This is my first marriage at 81, and everyone is thrilled for us,” Theiler added.  She told a story of how she came out to her sister at 50 years old, and when her nieces and nephews heard about “Aunt Doris,” they all said they knew.  Theiler’s sister was the only one who did not.  “The younger generation is wonderful.  It’s a new world,” she said.

Hal Rubenstein, honorary chair of the event, and Fund in the Sun co-director, a non-profit, married his partner of 15-and-a-half years, David Nickle, on Sept. 16, 2011 during their lunch break in Manhattan.  “I didn’t think I would be as emotionally connected to it as I became,” Rubenstein said. Other people’s happy reaction to his marriage makes him feel special.  “The fact that I can say, this is my husband, with the same kind of pride my father did when he introduced my mother, it does feel great.  It generates an emotional response,” he said. 

kate mueth June 27, 2012 at 06:34 PM
This was a truly beautiful event, whether one is gay or straight... really special.

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