GLAAD at Work on First Day of Marriages in New York

Sunday, July 24, was a historic day in the Empire State as New York became the sixth – and largest – state to legally allow marriage for loving and committed gay and lesbian couples.  More than 800 couples in New York  – some together for over five decades – decided not to wait a day longer for legal recognition of their relationships, lining up across the state in order to wed on the first day that the Marriage Equality Act of 2011 took effect.
Alan Miles (left) & Drew Glick with their wedding certificate.
GLAAD’s imprint on this monumental day was highly visible on July 24, and will remain visible indefinitely as the most influential national and international media continue to report on the significance of marriage equality in New York.  GLAAD provided media training to many of the couples who married on July 24, couples we then pitched to numerous local, national and international media.  Included among them were Alan Miles & Drew Glick and Tiffany Peckosh & Meredith Soffrin – both of whom shared their story with GLAAD shortly after we issued a call for couples on July 13. Alan & Drew married on July 24 after 16 years together and a seven-year engagement that began when marriage equality took effect in Alan’s home state of Massachusetts.  Alan proposed to Drew, who responded “yes” right away, but said that he wanted to wait until marriage equality was legal in his home state of New York.  USA Today featured Alan & Drew on the cover of the Monday, July 25, print edition, and movingly chronicled their story in words and through a beautiful photo essay as the couple prepared for their long-overdue wedding day.  New York City’s local FOX affiliate also spent significant time with Alan & Drew, both on their wedding day and on Good Day New York the morning after their wedding.

NBC Correspondent Michelle Franzen interviews newlyweds Tiffany Peckosh (far right) and Meredith Soffrin for NBC Nightly News.

Tiffany & Meredith of Brooklyn, NY, have been together for four years and got engaged last May over lunch at their favorite local taco shop.  The couple had planned to marry in Meredith’s hometown of Washington, D.C.  They will still host a ceremony there later this fall, but decided to legally marry in New York on July 24 given that New York is where they live, met and fell in love.  BBC America spent the day with Tiffany and Meredith on July 24, the result of which is a poignant mini-documentary that takes viewers on a journey as one couple prepare for their special – and historic – day.  NBC News also spent time alongside Tiffany & Meredith.  The couple was featured on Sunday’s editions of both Weekend Today and NBC Nightly News.

GLAAD staff with newlyweds Tiffany Peckosh & Meredith Soffrin.

Still there were other couples we trained in the lead-up to and on New York’s first day of marriages for loving and committed gay and lesbian couples.  GLAAD staff were among the first to arrive outside the Manhattan municipal building on July 24, where we provided every couple waiting in line with talking points on how to speak with the media about their stories of love and commitment.  A majority of those couples also received on-the-spot media training from members of GLAAD’s staff. In addition to providing couples with media training and pitching their stories to the media, GLAAD also provided additional resources to media professionals covering New York’s first marriages for gay and lesbian couples.  We shared our Media Reference Guide and underscored the importance of using terminology that is fair and accurate.  We also reminded journalists covering this story that many faith communities advocated for and support marriage equality.  We encouraged reporters to be inclusive of faith leaders who support marriage equality, and in some cases connected reporters with these individuals directly.  Of the coverage we’ve seen thus far, a New York Times video featuring Rev. Dr. Jacqueline Lewis, senior pastor of Middle Collegiate Church, has been the most encouraging. “It’s important that the culture know that there is more than one Christian voice,” said Rev. Dr. Lewis, who has received media training from GLAAD.  “Our Christian voice – our progressive Christian voice – understands that God is love; that God is on the side of love.  Wherever love is, God is.” GLAAD staff live tweeted during this momentous day, and many celebrities also tweeted their support for marriage equality in New York.  To gain a better sense of GLAAD’s role in the coverage of marriage equality in New York, please check out the “In the News” section of our New York marriage hub.  We will be updating this section as media coverage continues to come forth. GLAAD believes strongly that hearts and minds can and do change as a result of exposure to media images that are fair, accurate and inclusive.  In working to share couples’ stories of love and commitment, it is our steadfast hope that we will promote understanding, increase acceptance and advance equality.