Volume 79, Number 50 | May 19 -25, 2010
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

Matt Borden and Rachel Henes will wed in Connecticut, since gay marriage is legal there, but not in New York.

Straight couple nix New York for Conn. nups

By Lilly O’Donnell

Matt Borden, chief of staff for state Assemblymember Deborah Glick, and his fiancée, Rachel Henes, a social worker, will travel from Brooklyn to Connecticut for their wedding this June to show solidarity with same-sex couples who would have no choice but to make the same trek.

They’re hoping to spark a trend, to get more straight couples to marry in the Nutmeg State, or in any other state that affords equal marriage rights to gay couples.

“When we were thinking about getting married it was hard not to look around and realize that it was a real privilege that we could,” Borden, 30, said. “It’s an opportunity to get people to think about the issue,” he said.

The couple, who live in Clinton Hill, are writing letters to the governors of New York and Connecticut, as well as to key New York assemblymembers, to inform them of their decision, and to point out exactly how much money their marriage will bring to Connecticut, and how much New York will lose.

If lots of other straight couples take up the cause, as Borden and Henes hope they will, it could represent a significant drain of dollars from the Empire State.

The letter will be signed by the couple, as well as by wedding guests, “like a petition,” said Henes, 32.

“Money is not the primary motivation,” Borden said, “nor do I think in the end it’s going to be what sways people, but it’s an important consideration.”

Glick, the first openly lesbian member of the New York State Legislature, is co-sponsor of the same-sex marriage bill that passed the state Assembly, but not the state Senate.

Speaking to The Villager, Glick stressed the importance of opposite-sex couples’ involvement in the push for marriage equality through actions like Borden and Henes’s, adding that everyone has to be held accountable.

“They need to also be asking the [political] candidates that come before them in various venues how they feel about marriage equality,” Glick said. “I think it’s terrific when young people who have the option to marry in New York make the decision in solidarity with same sex-couples who are denied that right in New York, to go to Connecticut, Massachusetts or any other state where marriage equality exists,” she said.

Notoriously outspoken comedian Sarah Silverman recently took an even more extreme stance on the issue, expressing disdain for the entire institution of marriage.

“If you’re getting married today, it’s the equivalent of joining a country club that doesn’t allow blacks or Jews,” she said in an interview in the April issue of Playboy. Silverman said that she won’t get married until everyone can.

Borden and Henes don’t want to wait that long, but are instead using their marriage to make a statement that they hope will have an impact — and hopefully start a snowball effect of New York couples holding their wedding out of state.

“We know so many other couples who care about the issue but don’t necessarily connect it to their wedding day,” Henes said.

“When you’re getting married, there’s so much attention on you,” she said. It’s a perfect platform, they feel, to spark discussion of the importance of marriage equality. Henes said she has “a great respect” for people who opt out of marriage entirely in order to express dissatisfaction with inequality, but that the out-of-state route might make even more of a statement. “Staying in the game gives you an opportunity to talk about it and to ask people to think about,” she said. “If we’re going to get married, it’s partially going to be to make a statement.”

They plan to start a Facebook page to promote the effort, though still are settling on a name for the page.

“We don’t think that we’re going to wake up tomorrow and the world’s going to be a different place, but we definitely want to do our part,” Borden said. “If every straight person decided they were not going to get married in a state where same-sex marriage was illegal, I think there would be a huge shift,” he said. “We really hope that it catches on.”

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