A look at some of the gay couples married in NY

July 23, 2011 - 11:44 PM

Linda Mussman, 64, and Claudia Bruce, 65, have been together for 35 years. The women devoted to alternative and avant-garde art met in New York City in 1976 and later moved about 100 miles upriver to Hudson, where they bought an old brick building and dubbed it Time & Space Limited, a theater and arts center they co-direct.

That's where they were wed just past midnight Saturday in the arts center with about 200 friends and family members.

"It's a big exciting event," Mussman said.

They could have married in neighboring Massachusetts, Connecticut or Vermont but waited for New York to legalize gay marriage. Though Mussman was raised in the Midwest, she was drawn to New York City's art scene.

"My whole life has been to be a New Yorker," she said.

Mussman said the couple "held out" to get married in New York. She put the state's decision to legalize gay marriage up with women's suffrage and other major civil rights milestones.

In a wedding announcement on the TSL website, the pair said: "The ceremony will be conducted promptly at midnight. Following, there will be a midnight reception with music and dancing, which will last no later than 2 a.m. as the brides need their beauty sleep."

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They are mothers and grandmothers, and now they are trailblazers.

Kitty Lambert, 54, and Cheryle Rudd, 53, both of Buffalo, made it a point to be among the first same-sex couples to wed in New York state.

About 150 people gathered at a low-key reception before their ceremony at a park at Niagara Falls where guests ate cupcakes and hors d'oeuvres.

Lambert acted as a master of ceremonies, standing on a stool and thanking people for attending and for supporting the state's legislation.

Lambert, an art gallery manager at El Museo, grew up in Arizona and co-founded OUTspoken for Marriage with her partner in 2004 to pursue the right to legally marry. The grassroots group became OUTspoken for Equality in 2008.

Lambert and Rudd, who works at a pasta factory, have been together 12 years. They met while they were living in Arizona after divorcing. The women, who have five children and 12 grandchildren between them, have had several other commitment ceremonies while hoping their state would someday recognize their union.

"We're finally getting the same rights as everyone else," Rudd said while planning a ceremony in Niagara Falls at midnight, the moment the law took effect. "Nobody can take that away from us anymore."

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Frank Fuerte was handsome and smart. Patrick Simeone made Fuerte laugh every time they talked.

When the two met at New York's Jones Beach in 1988, they knew they wanted to be together.

They married with a small handful of friends on hand at a gazebo in a park in North Hempstead on Long Island.

Fuerte, 55, was born in Argentina and lived in Spain and Canada before moving to New York. He's a director of operations for a retailer. Simeone, a year older, is a born New Yorker and a stylist on Long Island's north shore. The two were married three years ago in Quebec and considered themselves married long before that.

For them, recognition in their home state is overdue.

"It's recognition we've been waiting for for a very long time," said Fuerte. "To me, it was 'About time.'"

Simeone says recognition in New York, with its international cachet, should be a catalyst for the rest of the nation.

And on Monday, it will be back to business as usual for the couple.

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Barb Laven and Dale Getto said they do at 12:01 sharp in Albany's City Hall with 10 friends and family members watching. Together for 14 years, the couple wore "I (Heart) NY" pins, each with a rainbow flag stuck in the middle of the heart symbol.

Mayor Jerry Jennings performed the ceremony, following through on a promise he made to the couple three years ago. Laven, 53, said the mayor, a Democrat, was on the "correct side" of the gay marriage debate.

"Tonight, we redefined our love and commitment to each other in a way that we were never able to do before: Through marriage. Forever," said Laven, who works for the state attorney general's office. "And it feels wonderful."

Getto, who's also 53, is a school administrator in Albany.