July 24, 2011 Staff Report
On the first day of legal marriage for same sex couples in New York State, dozens of elated members of the local community celebrated at Claret Wine Bar on Skillman with Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer and his partner of 12 years, Dan Hendrick.
Hendrick and Van Bramer held the “Toast,” with champagne and cake as guests spilled out onto the street. Well-wishers joined gay activists and couples to fete “Marriage Equality Day.”
Van Bramer and Hendrick deflected a lot of questions about when they would tie the knot, and one guest joked, “They can’t possible afford to marry now. Everyone in Jimmy’s district expects an invitation. They’d need to rent Citi field.”
Van Bramer and Hendrick met at the organization Van Bramer founded, Gay Pride House. Hendrick is the author of a book on local history, “Jamaica Bay,’ and is Communications Director of the New York League of Conservation Voters. In their joint statement of June 24, they stated, “For too long, gay and lesbian couples like us were forced to live in the shadows. No matter how long we lived together, no matter how much we loved each other, no matter how committed we were to one another.”
The happy mood kept even neighborhood naysayers at a low profile. A local, who is “opposed to gay marriage whether or not it is legal,” said of local lawmakers, “These are nice people. Let them celebrate and get back to work for all of their constituents.”