For two decades, Steve Williams and Joe Pressley have acknowledged their love for each other. Unfortunately the state of New York did not recognize their love, their commitment or status as a couple, until today.
WATCH THEIR STORY HERE:
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“The most important thing, and the way I live my life in our partnership, is that he comes first like any other couple,” said Pressley. “My partner comes first and I want everyone to celebrate that and be happy with that.”
Starting today, same sex couples can apply for a marriage license at city hall, making New York the sixth state to recognize same gender marriage, a social victory many gay couples have been fighting for through out the country.
However for Williams and Pressley the ability to have their marriage accepted into common law is more than political, it is a civil right. “It gives us the ability to see each other in the hospital if we are sick,” Williams shared. “We have succession rights, if something was to happen to one of us.”
The Williams-Pressley marriage festivities will start when the men pick up their licenses on Monday and will conclude during a private ceremony, on Saturday, at a Italian restaurant in Harlem. The non-traditional African-American couple will host a non-traditional ceremony, witnessed by more than a hundred family and friends.
“It is not a formal affair, we want folks to be comfortable, we want them to come and have fun, its about fun and its about celebration,” said Williams. “I think I am going to wear a blue blazer, a shirt and some slacks, and call it a day. It’s a really simple ceremony.”
Although the couple have won the fight for equality with the state, they have not been as successful at winning recognition from their entire family. Pressley’s mother will not attend the nuptials because she refuses to accept a marriage between two men. Although he is hurt by his mother’s disapproval, Pressley understands her decision to miss what will be the most important day in her son’s life.
“As much as it hurts my mom not being there it is also just a joy to look at the family that I have been able to construct, my family of origin and my family of friends who will be there to celebrate with me,” he said.