SAGE: Advocacy & Services for LGBT Elders
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For Immediate Release

July 24, 2011

Longtime SAGE Members Among the First Same-Sex Couples to Marry in New York

SAGE congratulates Connie Kopolov and Phyllis Siegal, the first same-sex couple to legally marry in New York City, and Michael Johnson and Michael Roberts.

[New York, NY] Today two LGBT older couples, longtime members of Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE), were among the hundreds of couples who wed in New York City on the first day on marriage equality. Connie Kopolov and Phyllis Siegel were the first same-sex couple to legally marry in New York City, and Michael Johnson and Michael Roberts married shortly after, in ceremonies hosted by the office of New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn.

"I extend my heartfelt congratulations to Phyllis and Connie, and Michael and Michael, on this joyous occasion," said Michael Adams, Executive Director of SAGE. "This day is especially poignant for the thousands of LGBT older people in New York, many of whom have been waiting decades to marry as a way to express their love and commitment to each other through good times and bad. I think we can agree that this is a very good day for LGBT New Yorkers."

Connie Kopolov, 84, and Phyllis Siegal, 76, together for over 20 years, have been New York City residents for much of their adult lives. Kopolov, a born rabble rouser, was a political advocate for the Labor Movement, frequenting demonstrations and rallies in support of Unions. Siegal moved to New York City when she was 50, and began volunteering at SAGE, where she met Kopolov. Together, they have laughed through the good times, and weathered some difficult times, such as Siegal's fight against breast cancer in 1991. To Kopolov and Siegal, same-sex marriage is about being treated as equal citizens, and now that it is legal in New York, getting married feels like the right thing to do.

Michael Johnson, 54, and Michael Roberts, 82, met in 1981 at the organization BWMT (Black and White Men Together). Johnson, a Florida native, and Roberts, a British expatriate who moved to the U.S. in 1956, bought a brownstone in Harlem in 1982 and have since been a force for good in the community. They created the first condominium conversion in Central Harlem, started a tradition of putting up an outdoor Christmas tree during the holidays for all to enjoy, and hold an annual open house party during the New York City Marathon (which runs by their house). Today, Johnson is on the board of the Harlem Commonwealth Council and both men participate in SAGE Harlem programs. They welcome the opportunity, a long time in coming, to marry, and look forward to the day that the federal Defense of Marriage Act is overturned.

These ceremonies took place at the New York City Clerk's Office and were officiated by New York City Clerk Michael MsSweeney. Speaker Quinn attended the ceremonies.

SAGE thanks Governor Andrew Cuomo and the state assembly members and senators who stood behind the LGBT community, and New York City Council Speaker Quinn for hosting the ceremonies. SAGE also congratulates New Yorkers United for Marriage, the coalition of groups who worked so hard to make marriage a reality for LGBT people in New York.

SAGE is the country's largest and oldest organization dedicated to improving the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) older adults. Founded in 1978 and headquartered in New York City, SAGE is a national organization that advocates for public policy changes that address the needs of LGBT older people. SAGE also offers supportive services and consumer resources to LGBT older adults and their caregivers, provides education and technical assistance for aging providers and LGBT organizations through its National Resource Center on LGBT Aging, and cultural competence training through SAGECare. With staff located across the country, SAGE coordinates a growing network of affiliates across the country. Learn more at

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