As Carmen Hernandez-DeArmas said “I do” to her partner of three years, Doris DeArmas-Hernandez, many in the audience understood they were watching history in the making.
A month after New York legalized same-sex marriage, Hernandez and her partner became the first gay couple to be married in the Bronx.
The couple hosted a formal service at Barretto Point Park during the last week in July, for family, friends, business partners and a few elected officials who voted “Yes” on the Marriage Equality bill legalizing same-sex marriage, which was passed into law on July 24.
The newlyweds will receive a proclamation honoring them as pioneers in the LGBT community from one the of the bill’s Bronx-based supporters, Assemblyman José Rivera, who helped arrange for the wedding to be held at the public park.
Carmen Hernandez-DeArmas, dressed in a white tuxedo and lavender tie, held up a framed copy of the originally signed bill and told the crowd, “This is the reason I’m here marrying my wife. “
Wearing a long, white, strapless wedding gown and holding a bouquet of rainbow-colored roses, Doris beamed, and said, “Now we’re united in front of good friends, family and everyone. It’s just awesome!”
Doris said she wants people to know “we’re as normal as they come. We’re as common as your next door neighbor. We wake up in the morning. We brush our teeth and head out to work the same way. We have the same family values.”
The couple is raising an 11-year-old daughter. There are more same-sex couples raising children in the Bronx than in any other borough, according to the PRIDE Center, an LGBT advocacy group.
“I’m going to tell you right now, “ warned Hernandez, who is known as “Reverend Carmen” for her work with LGBT young people at Stratford Community Services in Soundview, “whether you’re gay or not, they’re taking your rights away.”
“The Bronx has raised me and the community is my family and they took me in very well all my life,” she added.
Wedding guest Karlo Karlo said Carmen Herandez DeArmas’ thirty years of work helping LGBT at-risk youth have been crucial in turning lives around.
“To see someone that pours so much love and attention to the young people in the community that otherwise might not have a sister, mother or a friend,” she said. “I had to be here to celebrate love at all levels.”