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Popular Topics in The Arts
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Congratulations to John Banta and Daniel O'Donnell
Posted by: Claude J. Summers on 02/05/12
Last updated on: 02/05/12
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Daniel O'Donnell (left) and John Banta at their wedding (still from a YouTube video by Jose Rivera).

Congratulations to John Banta and Daniel J. O'Donnell on their wedding in New York City on January 29, 2012. The couple helped give a human face to the need for same-sex marriage in New York. O'Donnell, a Democratic Assemblyman representing New York City's Upper West Side, has served in the state Assembly since 2002 and was one of the lead sponsors of the marriage equality legislation that was finally passed on June 24, 2011. Banta, an events planner and Director of Special Events for the Metropolitan Opera, frequently appeared in Albany to lobby in favor of the legislation.

The ceremony, which was held at Guastavino's in Manhattan, was performed by Judith S. Kaye, former Chief Judge of New York's highest court, who in July 2006 wrote a carefully reasoned but powerful dissent when the court ruled 4-2 that the state constitution did not compel same-sex marriage. She noted then that denying marriage to same-sex couples does not serve the interest of children and predicted that future generations would consider the decision "an unfortunate misstep."

During the wedding ceremony, Judge Kaye read an excerpt from one of O'Donnell's speeches on same-sex marriage during the debate in the legislature: "I don't want a seat in your synagogue, I don't want a church pew. I want a license that all of you have. Some of you have had two or three times."

The wedding was attended by many of O'Donnell's colleagues in the state legislature and by Governor Andrew Cuomo. Also present were members of both grooms' families, including Rosie O'Donnell, the brother of Daniel O'Donnell.

Banta and O'Donnell met in 1978 at the Catholic University of America, where they were freshmen. They became a couple in the fall of their Junior year.

The story of their thirty-year relationship is recounted by Elissa Gootman in the February 3, 2012 edition of New York Times.

In the video below Daniel O'Donnell delivers the closing argument before the vote in the New York State Assembly on June 15, 2011.

Below is a video of the wedding by Jose Rivera.

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