They’ll be wearing dark suits — not tuxedos — and after 14 years of celebrating their first date — May 9 — the inscription on their rings will mark a different anniversary.
Feinblatt, a chief advisor to Mayor Bloomberg, and Mintz, the city’s Commissioner for Consumer Affairs, will be married by the mayor tomorrow at Gracie Mansion, making it the first same-sex marriage to be performed in the official residence of the mayor. They’ve also made the rounds in the frantic days before their wedding, telling their story to NPR, and filming a segment with Bloomberg on This Week with Christiane Amanpour.
“We’re writing a book: How to get married in 17 days,” Feinblatt said, sitting in a hotel lobby on West 44th Street. They had just finished the NPR interview and were on their way to their respective offices downtown. Eventually.
“I have to pick up my shirts from the dry cleaners,” Mintz muttered aloud.
The two were set up through a pair of mutual college friends on a double-blind date; neither friend had met both Feinblatt and Mintz. After connecting by phone, Mintz traveled from Rhode Island, where he was
attending teaching law school, to New York, to meet Feinblatt for the first time.
“I sat in the waiting room and didn’t exactly know what he looked like,” Mintz recalled. “So, I was watching people go by and wondering if they were my date.”
Feinblatt eventually emerged from his office and took Mintz on a tour of New York City. Feinblatt’s New York City.
“He took me across the street to the Midtown Community Court which he founded,” Mintz recalled. “Then, he gave me a tour of the prison.”
Feinblatt, hearing the story recounted again, smirked.
“Then, this was the bait and switch — and I get this from my consumer affairs background — he took me for a walk in Central Park,” Mintz gushed. “Then a drink at the Royalton. Fourteen years later, a shotgun wedding.” He said, in retrospect, “that was a real power play.”
“I thought those were three really nice ways of viewing New York,” Feinblatt said. “The high-low of New York.”
Both men joined Bloomberg’s administration early in the first term. Before the mayor’s 2005 re-election, the couple had their first child, Maeve
(or “Mae” for short). In the middle of the second term, Georgia, their youngest daughter arrived. And then, the questions.
“Our kids have been asking, ‘Why aren’t you married?’” Feinblatt recounted. “We didn’t want to deliver the message that it was illegal. So Jonathan came up with this great strategy of engaging them in this conversation about marriage and what weddings are like, what would you like to wear.”
“We didn’t want to tell them that the thing that their other friends’ families get to do is illegal for our family,” said Mintz, a former second-grade teacher. He said that would have been an “incredibly painful thing to say.”
Then, in recent months, as Governor Cuomo marshaled advocates to sway State Senators in Albany, Mayor Bloomberg beat the drum in New York City.
On May 26, Bloomberg delivered an impassioned speech in favor of same-sex marriage at Cooper Union, the place where more than a century earlier, Abraham Lincoln rose to national prominence by denouncing slavery. Mintz and Feinblatt wanted their children to see the speech.
“We invited both our kids. Georgia, when we went to pick her up from school, told us she hadn’t finished her lunch yet, so she declined,” Feinblatt said. “But Maeve went with us. So, I think this really framed it for her. In fact, afterward, she told this to us with a tear in her eye: ‘But I thought America was about fairness.’”
“She came to understand the civil rights issue in a very personal way,” Mintz said. “Luckily, the civil rights story has a happy ending here in New York.”
The pair expects about 150 guests from around the world: Turkey, London, California, Washington State — not to mention dozens of reporters. (The ceremony, which Bloomberg will officiate, is open to the press; the reception afterwards is not).
“I wondered how it would feel to get married at this stage,” Mintz said. “I wondered whether it would feel a little like throwing a party for my college graduation. You know, like, ‘It was a great thing but it was a long time ago.’ It’s really been anything but that. There’s a lot of people who are happy that they have the opportunity to celebrate this, an opportunity they never had before.”
Feinblatt — who, at the time of the interview, said he still had to pick up his suit and get his shoes shined — said the public aspect of their wedding is as much a gift to their children, as it is to the men who will be at the altar. They will be “part of history. How often do you get a chance to give that to your children? Make them part of the lesson of what New York and America is about, which is freedom.”