December 30, 2012

One couple's march to matrimony

Lisa Gorney and Donna Galluzzo acknowledge: 'It really was a historic night.'

By Matt Byrne
Staff Writer

The timing could not have been better.

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Portland newlyweds Donna Galluzzo, left, and Lisa Gorney share their first kiss as a married couple on the steps of Portland City Hall at 1:45 a.m. Saturday.

Gabe Souza/Staff Photographer

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Donna Galluzzo, 49, left, and Lisa Gorney, 45, who have been together for three years, visit Portland City Hall on Wednesday ahead of their weekend wedding to select a spot for the ceremony, settling on the building's interior curving marble staircase.

John Ewing/Staff Photographer

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Same-sex marriage became legal in Maine at 12:01 a.m. Saturday. Here’s an unofficial tally of licenses obtained and wedding ceremonies held, according to municipal officials in these communities:

AUGUSTA: three licenses

BANGOR: four licenses (three ceremonies)

BREWER: one license

BRUNSWICK: seven licenses

FALMOUTH: three licenses (two ceremonies)

FREEPORT: two licenses

GARDINER: one license

HALLOWELL: one license

PORTLAND: 15 licenses (six ceremonies)

SOUTH PORTLAND: seven licenses (three ceremonies)

It was moments before midnight when the door swung open to the black stretch-limousine parked on Congress Street, and Lisa Gorney and Donna Galluzzo stepped out onto a red carpet unfurled just for them.

Before them stood hundreds of supporters -- gay, straight, young, old -- in front of Portland City Hall, waiting to count down to the moment that gay marriage would become legal in Maine.

As Galluzzo and Gorney reached the top of the granite stairs on their way to the City Clerk's office to fill out their application for marriage, the crowd below them erupted. Cameras flashed, and for an instant, all eyes seemed to be upon them.

"I'm shaking," Gorney said, grinning at her partner of three years.

Less than two hours later on the same stretch of granite where the cries from hundreds of strangers made them feel like momentary celebrities, the two clasped hands and exchanged vows, one of the half-dozen same-sex couples in Portland to wed in the wee-morning hours after the law took effect.

"I truly believe somehow that our love is older than our lifetime here on Earth," Galluzzo said, before they exchanged rings and kissed for the first time as a married couple.

As it does for many gay couples and marriage equality supporters, the high-flying rhetoric of the national battle over marriage instantly melts in the presence of the people whose lives the law touches the most. Time after time, same-sex couples were greeted by cheers of joy at City Hall in a show of support for everyone's right to love whom they chose.

For couples like Galluzzo and Gorney, whose lifetimes span perhaps the most dramatic period in gay rights history, the moment is a relief and an affirmation they may not have believed was possible.

"It really was a historic night," said Galluzzo. "I feel really blessed and really loved and really supported."

Although neither Gorney nor Galluzzo consider themselves intensely political, both watched this year's equality campaign with trepidation. When the first attempt at passing gay marriage failed three years ago, the couple had a front row seat to the disappointment, at an after-gathering at the Holiday Inn on Spring Street.

But this time around, Gorney was in bed early on election night. As results of other political contests rolled in, word on Question 1, the marriage equality measure, was delayed.

When the news broke, Galluzzo bounded up the stairs and into the bedroom where Gorney lay sleeping.

"I just said, 'Honey, it passed!' " said Galluzzo, recalling her elation. "It's hard to describe how happy you feel in a moment like that."

Across the city at the same Holiday Inn where the couple witnessed the defeat in 2009, a crush of advocates, volunteers and news crews thronged the campaign staff of Mainers United for Marriage.

"I think it's a huge message that it passed here," said David A. Hamilton, a notary and friend of the couple who officiated at the ceremony. Hamilton, like other Mainers who anticipated the law in 2009, became a notary so he could cater to gay weddings.

Instead, he spent three years marrying straight people and hoping the electorate in Maine would help nudge the nation toward broader acceptance.

"You grow up as a little kid dreaming of being married, and I did too, but it wasn't realistic," said Hamilton. "It's amazing that we finally live in a world where we can have the same life dream as straight people."

The wedding caps an intense, three-year courtship for Galluzzo and Gorney.

The couple met in 2000 when they both briefly worked as waitstaff at Katahdin, a restaurant at the time located on Spring Street.

(Continued on page 2)

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Additional Photos

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Donna Galluzzo rests her chin on Lisa Gorney's shoulder as they wait to get their marriage license at the Office of the City Clerk.

Gabe Souza/Staff Photographer

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Lisa Gorney and Donna Galluzzo, both of Portland, arrive in style – complete with red carpet – at Portland City Hall late Friday night, shortly before the 12:01 a.m. moment Saturday when same-sex marriage would become legal in Maine. Supporters gathered outside cheered their arrival.

Gabe Souza/Staff Photographer

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The women's hands touch over their "Intentions of Marriage" form outside the Office of the City Clerk in Portland. Donna Galluzzo and Lisa Gorney were among 15 couples to seek licenses and about a half-dozen to wed early Saturday.

Gabe Souza/Staff Photographer

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