A Valentine’s Day wedding at the Empire State Building
by Mel Green
Anchorage residents Stephanie Figarelle and Lela McArthur today became the first same-sex couple to wed atop the historic Empire State Building in New York City, one of two same-sex couples to marry there today. Same-sex marriage became legal in New York on on July 24, 2011.
The other same-sex pair married today were New Yorkers Phil Fung and Shawn Klein. Two heterosexual couples also wed today at the Empire State Building: Angela Vega and Lubin Masibay of San Francisco and Paula Cubero and Enrique Catter of Greenwich, Connecticut.
Figarelle and McArthur are both personal trainers; Figarelle is owner of a local business, Figarelle’s Fitness. They met in an anatomy class at the University of Alaska Anchorage, and Figarelle proposed last September at Point Woronzof, where they later taped their application video for a contest on Facebook called “Wings of Love” which won them their place as one of four couples married at the Empire State Building on Valentine’s Day, the only day of the year when weddings are performed there. Their wedding was arranged by celebrity wedding planner Colin Cowie of Colin Cowie Weddings.
Their nuptials first became news with Jill Burke’s story in the Alaska Dispatch on January 30 (republished today), two weeks before the wedding. But today their wedding is national and international news too, with the Associated Press story carried on numerous news sites around the country including Huffington Post, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, and the Anchorage Daily News, among others. There are also stories at the Mail Online in the UK (lots of photos), the Los Angeles Times, and Reuters. (Bent Alaska cannot reproduce the photos here due to copyright restrictions.) Alaska blog and Bent Alaska friend The Mudflats shared the news earlier today.
According to The Mail’s story:
After the ceremony, the couple commented what a landmark day it was for them, noting inequalities that exist in many states, including their home state of Alaska.
‘It’s unfortunate it’s not more understood or accepted in our country. Love is genderless. It’s two souls, that’s it,’ Ms Figarelle told the Associated Press.
Colin Cowie, too, voiced his disappointment that the couple could not get married in Alaska. ‘I think it’s rather sad that someone has to travel to New York to get married because they don’t have the ability to do so legally,’ he said.
Alaska was one of the first two states, along with Hawaii, to enshrine marriage discrimination in its state constitution with the passage of Ballot Measure 2 in 1998. Figarelle’s and McArthur’s wedding comes as Anchorage residents continue to fight for basic civil rights protections with Proposition 5, the Anchorage Equal Rights Initiative, which if passed will amend Anchorage’s equal rights code to provide the same legal protections against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or transgender identity that are already provided based on race, color, sex, religion, national origin, marital status, age, physical disability, and mental disability. The measure is on the April 3 municipal ballot.
Congratulations, Steph and Lela! — and congratulations to the other happy couples!
The AP’s coverage includes a video of the wedding. Watch:
Here’s their video filmed last November at Point Woronzof.