In the highest profile same-sex wedding since marriage equality became a reality in New York State last July, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn married her partner of a decade, attorney Kim Catullo, in an early evening ceremony on May 19 at the Highline Stages in Chelsea.
In fact, the wedding of Quinn, first elected to the Council representing Manhattan’s West Side in 1999 and speaker since 2006, and Catullo, a product liability attorney at Gibbons PC, was also one of the biggest social gatherings of political elites in Manhattan in recent memory.
When Representative Charles Rangel, the Harlem Democrat who is the dean of the New York City congressional delegation, and his wife arrived in a red Mustang convertible just past 6:30 p.m. –– well after the scheduled start of the ceremony –– he joined roughly 275 other guests, including Governor Andrew Cuomo, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, US Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, and fellow Representatives Jerrold Nadler, Carolyn Maloney, Nydia Velasquez, and Joe Crowley.
At 7:02, a spokesman for the couple, who are both 45, emerged from the ceremony, in the West 15th Street venue that sits in the shadow of the famed elevated urban park from which it takes its name, to announce that the brides were officially married.
Quinn, dressed in a full-length, cream gown designed by Carolina Herrera, was walked down the aisle by her father, Lawrence. Catullo, wearing a cream silk evening suit from Ralph Lauren, was accompanied by her father, Anthony. The couple exchanged rings designed by Doyle & Doyle.
A mix of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and “What a Wonderful World” was played as the bridal party entered the ceremony. Catullo walked down the aisle to the strains of Bruce Springsteen’s “If I Should Fall Behind,” while Quinn made a more traditional choice with Beyonce’s rendition of “Ave Maria.”
Justice Judith Kaye, the retired chief judge of the New York State Court of Appeals, the state’s highest bench, officiated at the ceremony. Kaye wrote the powerful dissent in the 2006 case when the high court rejected a lawsuit claiming a constitutional right for same-sex couples to marry in New York.
Tony-award winning singer and actress Audra McDonald sang “She Loves,” by George and Ira Gershwin. The band To the Max performed at the reception.
Minutes after the ceremony, Kim’s nephew Jeff Catullo –– who said he was just four years younger than the bride and raised as if her younger brother –– and his wife and two small children emerged to describe the event as “important and kind-hearted” and filled with “a lot of excitement.”
“There really wasn’t a dry eye in the house,” said Jeff, whose wife, Christine, said the wedding “was a long time coming.”
Jeff said that in ten years of knowing the Council speaker, he learned that the Catullos and the Quinns were “very similar… They love good food. They love to laugh. They love to love. And they love to debate everything.”
On his way into the ceremony, Congressman Rangel said, “There isn’t anything I would want for them that I wouldn’t want for any two people in love.”
Quinn’s wedding came just hours after the NAACP announced its support for marriage equality nationwide and 10 days after President Barack Obama gave his endorsement in a dramatic interview with ABC News.
As she was leaving, Representative Maloney told reporters that the couple’s vows were “deep and profound,” but begged off on offering specific details, saying “that is very private.” Maloney was not dissuaded by reporters’ insistence that these very private moments were witnessed by nearly 300 people. Instead, she hurried off down 15th Street on a bright late spring evening in pursuit of a yellow taxi discharging its fare.