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Two Grandmothers Among the First to Legally Wed as Gay Marriage Begins at Midnight in NY

Dale Getto, left, and Barb Laven both of Albany, N.Y., celebrate their marriage after Albany Mayor Gerald D. Jennings D-Albany, performed the city’s first legal same-sex marriage ceremony at City Hall at 12:01 a.m. in Albany, N.Y., Sunday, July 24, 2011. (AP Photo/Hans Pennink)

NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. (AP) — They are mothers and grandmothers, and now they are trailblazers.

Kitty Lambert, 54, and Cheryle Rudd, 53, both of Buffalo, made it a point to be among the first same-sex couples to wed in New York state.

About 150 people gathered at a low-key reception before their ceremony at a park at Niagara Falls where guests ate cupcakes and hors d'oeuvres.

Lambert acted as a master of ceremonies, standing on a stool and thanking people for attending and for supporting the state's legislation.

Lambert, an art gallery manager at El Museo, grew up in Arizona and co-founded OUTspoken for Marriage with her partner in 2004 to pursue the right to legally marry. The grassroots group became OUTspoken for Equality in 2008.

First gay mariage in NYS:

Lambert and Rudd, who works at a pasta factory, have been together 12 years. They met while they were living in Arizona after divorcing. The women, who have five children and 12 grandchildren between them, have had several other commitment ceremonies while hoping their state would someday recognize their union.

"We're finally getting the same rights as everyone else," Rudd said while planning a ceremony in Niagara Falls at midnight, the moment the law took effect. "Nobody can take that away from us anymore."

The early Sunday marriages mark a pivotal moment in the national drive for recognition.

New York is the sixth state to allow same-sex marriage. Its historic vote to legalize it last month was viewed by advocates and opponents as a watershed that would galvanize both sides.

In Hudson, about 30 miles south of the capital, Albany, Linda Mussman, 64, and Claudia Bruce, 65, legally married after 35 years together.

The women devoted to alternative and avant-garde art met in New York City in 1976 and later moved about 100 miles upriver to Hudson, where they bought an old brick building and dubbed it Time & Space Limited, a theater and arts center they co-direct.

That's where they were wed just past midnight Saturday in the arts center with about 200 friends and family members.

"It's a big exciting event," Mussman said.

They could have married in neighboring Massachusetts, Connecticut or Vermont but waited for New York to legalize gay marriage. Though Mussman was raised in the Midwest, she was drawn to New York City's art scene.

"My whole life has been to be a New Yorker," she said.

Mussman said the couple "held out" to get married in New York. She put the state's decision to legalize gay marriage up with women's suffrage and other major civil rights milestones.

In a wedding announcement on the TSL website, the pair said: "The ceremony will be conducted promptly at midnight. Following, there will be a midnight reception with music and dancing, which will last no later than 2 a.m. as the brides need their beauty sleep."

And in Albany, Mayor Jerry Jennings said he'd marry a handful of couples who wanted to be among the first.

Barb Laven and Dale Getto said they do at 12:01 sharp in Albany's City Hall with 10 friends and family members watching. Together for 14 years, the couple wore "I (Heart) NY" pins, each with a rainbow flag stuck in the middle of the heart symbol.

Jennings performed the ceremony, following through on a promise he made to the couple three years ago. Laven, 53, said the mayor, a Democrat, was on the "correct side" of the gay marriage debate.

"Tonight, we redefined our love and commitment to each other in a way that we were never able to do before: Through marriage. Forever," said Laven, who works for the state attorney general's office. "And it feels wonderful."

Getto, who's also 53, is a school administrator in Albany.

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