Same-Sex Couples Cheer Chance to Wed

Bound by love, and powers vested by state
Dr. Ralph Gibson, center, and Andrew Jacobyansky formalized their 31-year partnership with a wedding ceremony at East Hampton Village Hall on Tuesday, with Mayor Paul F. Rickenbach Jr., right, presiding. Durell Godfrey

    The scene was a far cry from Manhattan, where jubilant same-sex couples competed in a lottery for the opportunity to be married as soon as New York State’s new law allowing them to do so took effect, but on Monday morning in East Hampton, three couples — all of whom have been together for more than three decades — obtained marriage licenses from the town clerk.
    One more license was issued the next day.
    On Tuesday afternoon, one of those couples, Dr. Ralph Gibson and Andrew Jacobyansky, was married at East Hampton Village Hall by the mayor, Paul F. Rickenbach Jr.
    They arrived at Village Hall a few minutes early. Mayor Rickenbach, who had worn shorts to the office that morning, had gone home, they were told, to change into more suitable attire.
    The couple, who together run Dr. Gibson’s medical practice in East Hampton, had spent the morning with patients at the Pantigo Road office.
    The ceremony was to take place with a minimum of pomp. “We’re going to take an extra half-hour for lunch,” Mr. Jacobyansky said on Tuesday morning.
    Just as they were to leave for the wedding, Mr. Jacobyansky said, a patient had called and was starting on a long narrative, which he had to interrupt. “What can we do for you?” he finally asked, as both he and Dr. Gibson began to get a bit antsy.
     “Patient at 2:30,” Dr. Gibson replied, when asked at Village Hall if the two were heading back to work after their ceremony. In November, they’ll take a honeymoon of sorts, a trip to India that had already been planned when they learned about the passage of the marriage equality law.
    The couple met when both were in business school at the University of Chicago and will celebrate their 31st anniversary together on Sept. 22. They plan to hold a reception then.
    After college, they both became Manhattan investment bankers, but after six years, Mr. Gibson made the decision to go to medical school. Mr. Jacobyansky spent 20 years on Wall Street, becoming a specialist at Moody’s in the North and South American power industries. They had a weekend house here for 12 years before moving out from the city full time.
    At the East Hampton Town Clerk’s office just after 9 on Monday morning, birth certificates in hand, Dr. Gibson had been the second to receive a same-sex marriage license application. The first to do so was a female couple that preferred to remain anonymous, but said they had  been together 34 years.
    Dr. Gibson said that he and Mr. Jacobyansky wanted to be married for financial and legal reasons, but had waited until it was legal to do so in their home state of New York.  For instance, the doctor said, though the men have made out health care proxies, “I’ve seen terrible things happen,” when one partner becomes ill and a domestic partner relationship is not recognized by the health care system.
    Another reason to take the plunge is “just making a statement,” he said. “I think it’s kind of cool that we’ve been in this town for 10 years as an out couple, running a medical practice. It’s just great. The community has embraced us.”
    And, he said, they jumped at the chance as soon as the law went into effect “because of California. You just don’t know,” he said. “What if there’s a big referendum [annulling the law]?”
    When he and Mayor Rickenbach, a patient and a friend, ran into each other after the new legislation was passed, the mayor had offered to do the honors, Dr. Gibson said.
    In Mayor Rickenbach’s office on Tuesday afternoon, the couple sat next to each other on a settee. Mr. Jacobyansky, in jeans and a crisp blue shirt, twirled a gold ring on his right ring finger — the match to his partner’s. Fifteen or 20 years ago, he said, Mr. Gibson had wanted them to exchange rings, and one day Mr. Jacobyansky surprised him with a stop at the Manhattan Cartier store.
    He said he wasn’t sure if they should move them to their left hands now, or not. “We’re making this up,” Mr. Jacobyansky said about the protocol.
    The mayor arrived, sharp in a khaki-colored suit with a blue pinstriped shirt and blue and yellow striped tie, and hugged Dr. Gibson, a wide smile on his face. “Just give me a minute, sit down and relax,” he said, as he settled in at his desk. “Maybe I’ll change my mind,” said Dr. Gibson with a laugh.
    Mr. Rickenbach reviewed the marriage license and other documents, and made sure the license had been issued at least 24 hours earlier, to comply with the standard one-day waiting period.
    He encouraged the couple to include an exchange of the rings in the ceremony. “You’re just following my instructions,” he told them. “I’ll walk you through it.”
    Dr. Gibson, in khaki pants and a white shirt with a lavender tie, told the small assembly — Larry Cantwell, the village administrator, as the official witness, and a couple of members of the press — about how he had joked with a credulous patient about having to diet so he could fit into his mother’s wedding dress. His mother, he said later, had wanted to be there but was still recuperating from a hospital stay.
    “You guys come over here,” Mayor Rickenbach said. “We’re going to try to make it historic.” They stood in front of the fireplace, each holding his hands cupped together in front. Standing at one side, the mayor, who had first practiced the proper pronunciation of Mr. Jacobyansky’s name, read from a small white folio.
    “Will you have this person as your wedded spouse?” he asked Dr. Gibson first. As the mayor spoke to Mr. Jacobyansky, Dr. Gibson turned to look at his partner, an intense look and a slight smile on his face. Mr. Jacobyansky pushed the ring onto his new spouse’s hand, his hand and voice shaking a tiny bit.
    “Well, thank you — wow,” he said, after the mayor pronounced them married. “I feel very good — emotional,” Dr. Gibson said.
    Mayor Rickenbach took a moment to mention the impact of the marriage equality law. “I’ve known these two gentlemen — I love them like family,” he said. “It’s a humbling honor to join them. The two of you are beloved members of this community, and it’s a special occasion,” he told them. The newlyweds were presented with an orchid.
    The mayor said he has a few more same-sex marriage ceremonies pending. “It’s happy to be a part of someone’s life,” and to play a role in formalizing a relationship, he said.
    Downstairs in Village Hall, a cadre of uniformed village enforcement officers materialized to congratulate the couple. “Congratulations. God bless you guys,” one said.
    “He’s older than I am; I don’t know who’s going to take care of me when I am old,” Dr. Gibson quipped. (Their birthdays are only months apart.)
    “It’s disconcerting,” Mr. Jacobyansky told another person in the office, “especially pledging my worldly goods.”
    Another longtime couple, Jim Mannix and Bob Acker of Amagansett, also showed up first thing Monday at Town Hall to obtain a marriage license. Their 39th anniversary together will be in September.
    “We have felt married in some sense for as long as we have been together,” Mr. Acker said. “Our most important goal is to be counted and to reinforce what’s happening. It’s important to join the numbers to be counted in New York State . . . to be visible.” The couple said they felt it was important to go for the marriage license on the first day it was allowed.
    But until same-sex marriage is accepted on a federal level, he said, a marriage here and now will address little as far as practicalities, such as a survivor’s rights.
    Their wedding ceremony, the couple said, will probably take place within the next three or four weeks, possibly at Town Hall, with a town justice presiding. They don’t plan a big reception, but will gather with family members — Mr. Mannix’s, here, including the East Hampton Town budget officer, Len Bernard, who was on hand Monday morning, and Mr. Acker’s, upstate — all of whom, they said, “have accepted us as a couple for as long as we’ve been together.” That support has been “a blessing,” they said.
    Mr. Acker was 39, and Mr. Mannix, 21, when they met through mutual friends at a bar in Sayville. “We were both with dates, but something happened that night,” Mr. Acker said of their connection, which has only grown since then.
    “One way or another, we have managed to work through whatever problems have manifested in our lives,” said Mr. Acker. The days of “shaking knees” have waned, he said, but “our love has become deeper.”