Politics

December 30, 2012

One couple's march to matrimony

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

By Matt Byrne mbyrne@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

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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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BY THE NUMBERS

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)

They remained acquaintances, but were in and out of other relationships for years, until Valentine's Day in 2009, when Galluzzo and Gorney were invited to see a movie with mutual friends. The chemistry was instant.

They exchanged emails and text messages for a week, and even agreed that when they saw each other next, their date should start with a kiss. Gorney said she could feel that it would be her last date as a single woman.

A week later, both said they knew they would be married.

In April of this year, Galluzzo made it official. She proposed in the same booth at the same restaurant where they shared the date. To Gorney's surprise, in a private dining area below them, a slew of their friends gathered for a surprise engagement party.

"I just knew it, she just knew it." Gorney said of the engagement. "Even now, every day, I just want to be with her."

That Gorney, 45, and Galluzzo, 49, would end up on the steps of Portland City Hall hand in hand before a crowd of gay-marriage supporters is a far cry from their early lives. For years, they both dated men, and Galluzzo was even engaged to a man for a time.

Both had scant exposure to gay and lesbian lifestyles while growing up, and both realized their attraction to the same sex much later than many people do today.

Galluzzo, who grew up in Ossining, N.Y., a community that hugs the eastern bank of the Hudson River an hour north of Manhattan, said she had substantial and healthy relationships with men well into her 20s, a fact that made her coming out all the more painful for her family.

Her earliest awareness of gay life came from an uncle, John Sichel, for whom the couple held a moment of silence during their ceremony.

In the spring of 1970, Sichel was missing for eight days. Police were soon involved, and in the course of the investigation the family discovered that her uncle was gay.

A few weeks later, police found Sichel murdered, his body dumped in a sewer, apparently killed by three men in a jealous rage. The intersection of Sichel's sexuality and his violent death still weighs on Galluzzo, who wonders how her life would have unfolded had she had an ally in the family.

Janet Galluzzo, Donna Galluzzo's mother, said that Sichel's murder was connected to his sexual orientation. She said three men went to prison for the crime.

"(Police) felt it was a rage of jealousy," Janet Galluzzo, 74, said from her Fort Lauderdale, Fla., home, where she lives with her husband, Ed, 78. "It's something that profoundly affected both my children's lives."

For Donna Galluzzo, the connection she feels to the uncle she didn't have a chance to know better remains deep and spiritual, as if Sichel was a benevolent guiding force.

"I always believed in my heart that he was kind of looking out for me, and that he somehow played a part in bringing (Lisa and me) together," Galluzzo said. "I do often wonder, had my uncle stayed alive, would it have changed my path? Would I have come out sooner? But you just don't know."

Janet Galluzzo said that after she learned of her daughter's orientation, she was shocked, especially after the longterm relationships Galluzzo had with men.

"I said, 'I don't understand. Now all of a sudden you're gay?"' Janet Galuzzo recalled. But the overwhelming desire was for her daughter's happiness.

"(Donna) had a couple of partners we weren't nuts about," Janet Galluzzo said. "The whole family is crazy about Lisa. We all want Donna to be happy and not to be alone."

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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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