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New York Today: Gay Marriage Crosses the River

Rich Kiamco, left, and David Gibson were the first gay couple married in Jersey City this morning.
Reena Rose Sibayan/The Jersey Journal, via Associated Press
Updated 1:10 p.m. | On the day that gay marriages were first performed in New York in 2011, supporters in New Jersey gathered on a pier in Hoboken.
They gazed across the Hudson toward New York.
“We said, ‘Why can’t we have that here?’ ” Hayley Gorenberg, deputy director of Lambda Legal, a gay-rights group, recalled on Sunday.
Just after midnight today, the first same-sex couples were wed in New Jersey.
It was a victory for the movement that was spurred in part by the earlier success in New York.
New Jersey had same-sex civil unions since 2007, but Ms. Gorenberg and others convinced the courts that this arrangement did not give couples full equal rights.
With the addition of New Jersey, the entire Eastern Seaboard from Maryland to Maine now allows gay marriage.
New Jersey’s law was solidified this morning when Gov. Chris Christie said his administration would abandon further legal challenges to it.
Ms. Gorenberg noted that with so many people crossing state borders, legal same-sex marriage in New York and not in New Jersey created confusion and inconsistent treatment.
Now, she said, “People who live in the tristate area and function in the tristate area – they’re going to be able to harmonize it all.”
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David Gibson, right, and Rich Kiamco of Jersey City make history as they become the first official same-sex couple to be married in Jersey City in a ceremony officiated by Mayor Steve Fulop at 12:01 a.m. Monday, Oct. 21, 2013, at City Hall.
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JERSEY CITY, New Jersey - Filipino-American stand-up comic Rich Kiamco and his partner David Gibson have been together for 10 years and are finally going to be recognized as a married couple when they tie the knot on October 21 in New Jersey.
They have proclaimed their vows to each other in the past but in ceremonies that did not recognize same-sex union.
Kiamco said, "We had a big wedding in New Jersey after we had our legal one, we took a ferry in New York City and then we came back, a big ceremony at Jersey City at the Loew’s Theater with all of our friends and family but that was really a fake."
"It was kind of a facsimile of a wedding because in reality gay marriage isn't legal in New Jersey because our Governor in New Jersey has vetoed the courageous move on the part of the legislature," said Gibson.
Last year, Republican Governor Chris Christie vetoed a bill that would have allowed same-sex marriage in the state of New Jersey. But a judge ruled in September that same-sex couples can marry legally in New Jersey beginning October 21.
As wedding bells start ringing for gay and lesbian couples in New Jersey, some religious kababayans here are appalled.
“Ay hindi pwede kasi wala yan sa Bible na mag-asawa ka ng lalaki sa lalaki, ang babae magasawa ng babae, hinde! It’s against the law of God. I'm a Baptist and I live in this country for 46 years, I cannot tolerate people for having same sex marriage," said Eleanor Escobar.
"By that time, I’m not here anymore. I'm in the Philippines, aalis na ako."
Even with opposition from his own community, Ronald Capila said he cannot wait to get married to his partner of six years and avail of about 1,300 rights and benefits that were only previously afforded to straight married couples.
"I'm a working class citizen and I pay taxes. I feel like I should be able to get married if I want to, and get the same benefits if and when I need it," Capila said.
For equal marriage rights advocates here, the fight to completely legalize same-sex marriage in New Jersey is not quite over. The State Supreme Court has agreed to hear an appeal from Gov. Christie’s administration.
But for now, there’s no stopping Kiamco and Gibson’s "real wedding."
They are expected to be the first gay couple to declare their legal vows at the chambers of Jersey City Hall at the stroke of midnight on October 21, with no less than Mayor Steve Fulop officiating the wedding himself.
Gibson said, "It's a statement, an assertion of the civil rights that we gays and lesbians have."