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Posted by: Claude J. Summers on 02/14/12
Last updated on: 02/15/12
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Stephanie Figarelle and Lela McArthur tied the knot at 8:00 a.m. at the Empire State Building.

Fresh off a legislative victory for marriage equality in Washington state, Valentine's Day 2012 was celebrated in a variety of ways, from the inclusiveness of a Google video, to direct action in Texas, to the first same-sex weddings atop the Empire State Building in Manhattan, and to a decision by an American man to leave the country so he can be with his husband in Israel.

The day began with a Google Doodle Valentine's Day video which included a same-sex couple.

In Texas, members of the direct action group GetEqual allowed themselves to be arrested during an annual Valentine's Day marriage equality protest at the Travis County Clerk's office.

According to the Austin, Texas news site Raw Story, instead of the usual parade of same-sex couples applying for marriage licenses on Valentine's Day, about 40 people representing both GetEqual and Occupy Austin decided to occupy the Clerk's office.

As couples walked up a pair at a time to have their requests for marriage licenses denied, County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir "faithfully carried out her legal duty of denying the requests." She apologized to the couples for having to deny them licenses, even putting an arm around one woman who began to cry.

In an unplanned action, three activists decided to lock arms and sit down, staging their own occupation in the name of love and equality, singing, "I'm gonna stand at the marriage counter / I'm gonna stand at the marriage counter, one of these days / I'm gonna stand at the marriage counter / I'm gonna stand at the marriage counter, one of these days. I'm gonna slow dance at my wedding / I'm gonna slow dance at my wedding, one of these days / I'm gonna slow dance at my wedding / I'm gonna slow dance at my wedding, one of these days."

They were soon joined in singing by the entire group of activists.

When the women told Clerk DeBeauvoir that they planned to stay until closing time or later, she explained that they were welcome to stay until closing, at which point they would be removed--or, she said, "we could just do this thing right now while the reporters are still here."

DeBeauvoir explained, "what I'm suggesting is, why don't you do it now and get it on camera? I mean, I'm trying to have . . . . For you to get the maximum message here. So, what I'm thinking is, maybe we need to do it now?"

With this encouragement, the activists agreed, so the county clerk called the police, but asked them to give them "the least charge possible."

As the police removed the three women to police cars waiting outside the County Clerk's office, they passed a symbolic commitment ceremony between two men that was being performed in the parking lot.

County Clerk DeBeauvoir told Raw Story, "We wish the law was different, but until it is I'm bound by the laws of the state and will not break the law. One of these days, I hope that all couples have the same civil rights."

Below is a video of the occupation.

In New York, where same-sex couples now do have the same civil rights as opposite-sex couples, for the first time in history a gay male couple and a lesbian couple were married atop the Empire State Building.

Although the top of the iconic building has become a romantic place for lovers to meet, weddings are permitted there only on Valentine's Day. This year four couples received permission to wed, and two of the couples were of the same sex.

As reported by the website Gothamist.com, the first couple to wed this year were Stephanie Figarelle and Lela McArthur, who tied the knot at 8:00 a.m. They may be seen in the video below.

At 11:00 a.m., Shawn Klein and Phil Fung became the first same-sex couple from New York State to wed atop the Empire State Building.

Another Valentine's Day video was posted by Immigration Equality, a national organization fighting for equality under U.S. immigration law for glbtq and HIV-positive individuals. The video tells the story of Matt Conley and Yoav Schlezinger, a married, U.S.-Israeli couple who have been separated as a result of DOMA and our country's discriminatory immigration laws.

In the video, Conley reveals that he has decided to move to Tel Aviv so he can be with his husband.

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