A mayoral proposal, 2 ecstatic daughters, and 17 days to make it happen
July 25, 2012
Editors' Note: Tuesday, July 24, 2012 marks the first anniversary of legal marriages between same-sex couples in New York. To celebrate, Freedom to Marry is sharing the stories of same-sex couples who tied the knot this year, celebrating their love and commitment with beautiful ceremonies and gatherings of their friends, family members, and other loved ones. Here, we share the story of John Feinblatt and Jonathan Mintz, who married on July 24, 2011. Read all of our stories about the first year of the freedom to marry in New York.
There were mouth-watering cupcakes in three flavors. There was the stately Gracie Mansion, a historic backdrop for any occasion. And there was Mayor Michael Bloomberg himself, not only in attendance but officiating as John Feinblatt, the mayor's chief adviser on policy and strategic planning, and Jonathan Mintz, the city's consumer affairs commissioner, took their vows on July 24, 2011.
But when they think back to the wedding, they say the most important element of their wedding was not any of those; rather, it was their children - Maeve, then 8, and Georgia, then 6.
"Our kids, like every other kid in America and around the world, want to feel like their family isn't different," John said. "It was important for them to know that we could get married right here, and their friends could come."
While the freedom to marry made its way through the New York Legislature, urgency was building in the Feinblatt household, Jonathan said, as the girls reached an age when the realization began to set in that their family is different. "There's the ‘How come, why not, when,' - all of that kind of budding understanding of inequality," he said. When they were able to legally marry, he said, "All of that disappeared in a flash. Our flash was a big, bright flash."
But their headline-making wedding was more than just a celebration of their family, he added. "Even putting aside the moment that it represented for New York State, it was this moment in our family that we had never had, that I had never imagined for myself," he said. It was a real surprise to me - and to both of us - how emotionally significant it was."
It all began in the wake of the law's passage in June 2011. The couple had been together 14 years, and while John had worked with the mayor on the freedom to marry, he had never really broached the topic in a personal capacity. Over coffee at work, the mayor took John aside and offered, unprompted, to marry them - if they were so inclined.
"The mayor doesn't pop the question to other couples that often," John said. "It was a politically romantic moment."
Spurred by that conversation, John officially proposed, and the date was set: July 24, the first day they could legally marry - and only 17 days away.
"I think about it a lot," John said. "We really got a free ride. People torture themselves for months, for years over this, and while those 17 days were tough ..."
Jonathan finished for him: "I would highly recommend it."
When the date rolled around this year, there were "happy anniversary" emails, cards and big hugs from their girls.
"We've seen that comfort level settle in for our family, the way our society defines family," Jonathan said. A year into their marriage, he said, it's still all about their daughters. "It's about those real basics of love and family."
John agreed, saying, "It was such a personal day for the four of us because of the gift we were giving our giving our kids, which was being a part of history."
As they reminisced about that beautiful day, they suddenly recalled a special batch of reserved cupcakes in the freezer, calling their names. After all, it had been a year - and what better way to celebrate an anniversary?