Early Monday morning, just after the stroke of midnight, two Asbury Park gay couples tied the knot on the steps of the landmark Paramount Theatre on the boardwalk in Asbury Park, only moments after same-sex marriages became legal in New Jersey.
Asbury Park Councilwoman Amy Quinn and her longtime partner and wife, Heather Jensen, were one of two Asbury Park couples married. Quinn and Jensen were previously married in June in New York but wanted to get remarried in Asbury Park.
Also married were residents Steven Brunner and Daniel Baum, with about 50 supporters looking on, many openly hugging or crying.
“For the first time in my life I feel like I am being treated like every other human being in the United States. And to have the support of Asbury Park’s straight community when a lot of others were not in support- it was amazing. Has this changed my life? Yes!” Baum said.
Quinn said that she and Jensen feel much the same way.
“It was really important for us to get married in our home state, in our home town, and in front of family and friends on a very historic day. And we chose the boardwalk because we both love it and we thought it was a fitting location,” Quinn said.
Quinn, an attorney, said she is “thrilled” that marriage equality is moving forward in New Jersey, especially in Asbury Park.
“I couldn’t be happier and it’s long overdue,” she said.
Asbury Park has always been in the forefront of gay marriage and is one of the few towns in the state that gave out applications for marriage licenses in advance of any state Supreme Court decision.
Quinn, along with Baum and Brunner, said that Deputy City Clerk Kiki Tomek has always been in the forefront of gay marriage.
“Kiki did leaps and bounds to help us,” Baum said.
Tomek said she started handing out marriage applications even before the Supreme Court made its ruling and has handed out 19 applications as of Oct. 22.
And Tomek said she is more than happy to see gay couples getting the applications.
“For me, it’s more about equal rights for everybody- across the board. It’s a Constitutional Right that they should be married. I feel great, fabulous because these couples have waited so long,” she said.
Tomek said she feels that domestic partnerships and civil unions offered gay couples very little in the long run.
“So the third time’s a charm,” she said.
As far as being married in Asbury Park, Baum said he and Brunner felt the support was always there.
“Asbury Park is a community that supports diversity. There was a lot of support here from everyone- that’s how it felt to me,” he said.
Baum has lived in Asbury Park since 2002 and Brunner since 2007.
And as far as getting married immediately?
“Who wouldn’t? On Friday we had no idea this would actually happen. We thought our window might be shut and we tried to get in under the wire. We wanted to be a part of history because this is bigger than us. As soon as (gay marriage) came to our state, we jumped on it,” Baum said.
Brunner and Baum drove to Newark earlier Sunday where an Essex County judge signed a waiver allowing some couples to marry early Monday morning — just short of the required 72-hour waiting period.
“I went there, and got back, and then got married about two hours later,” Baum said.
And Baum said the moment was very important and special to both he and Brunner and he hopes other states will make the same move, even if some people are unhappy about it.
“It’s about me loving another person, and being united, and being legally bound. And it’s nice to be a part of that,” he said.
Rev. Thomas Pivinski, a retired Catholic monk who married his longtime civil union partner, Malcom Nevias, later on Monday night, officiated at the ceremony.
“I am elated, quite honestly. This is an historic day. The Bill of Rights was ratified in 1791 and it only took us 222 years to have the same gift to marriage,” he said.
And Pivinksi said it was “a great honor and privilege” to perform the ceremonies and that he knows both couples well.
And far as he and Nevias are concerned, Pivinski said it has been a long journey.
“We had a domestic partnership and then a civil union- and now we are married by a rabbi. We have always been a multi-ritual family but now I think it has gone full circle so I feel absolutely wonderful,” he said.
Also married by Pivinski were Karen and Marcye Nicholson-McFadden, who were plaintiffs in a 2002 lawsuit that brought the same-sex marriage issue to the state.
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