The First Married Couple in New York
As the seconds ticked toward midnight July 23, Paul Dyster, the mayor of Niagara Falls, N.Y., anxiously looked at his watch. Kitty Lambert (above, right), a prominent LGBT activist from Buffalo, and her partner of over a decade, Cheryle Rudd, stood in front of him as their friends and family looked on. It was a moment they all had fought for.
And within minutes, it was all over. The grandmothers were married a second past midnight July 24, the first possible moment for legal same-sex marriage in New York State. The duo waved and smiled, walking together for the first time as a married couple, while Lady Gaga’s “The Edge of Glory” blared over speakers.
While Lambert and Rudd go down in history as the first same-sex couple wed in New York — the largest U.S. state to date to offer equal marriage rights to gay couples — the ceremony merely recognized their long-held commitment.
Rudd is “the one person I had been committed to for over a decade, the one I share five children and 12 grandchildren with, the one I own a home with, and the one I survived two runs of cancer and three heart attacks with,” says Lambert.
Photos of Lambert and Rudd taking their vows at the edge of Niagara Falls — with a rainbow light display reflecting off the water — became one of the first joyous images of Empire State marriage equality that were seen across the world. The wedding was also, says Lambert, almost surprisingly without incident or protest, a stark contrast to the years the couple spent fighting to reach that moment. There were no demonstrators, just a simple wedding with children, grandchildren, their closest friends, and of course the reporters.
But when asked if anything has changed in the few weeks since their high-profile nuptials, Rudd responds, “Not really. Kitty still won’t do the dishes.”