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11/11/11 Once In A Century

November 11, 2011 by staff 

11/11/11 Once In A Century, On Friday – 11-11-11 – Sheila Barnett and Melissa Patrick will walk down an aisle and stand in front of a giant, crescent-shaped window at the Crowne Plaza in Manhattan, look each other in the eyes and say, “I do.”

The same-sex couple from Florida was one of 11 couples to win the hotel’s “Marry Me 11-11-11 Wedding Contest” on Facebook, which gave away dream weddings on that once-in-a-century day that’s supposed to be lucky for love: Nov. 11, 2011.

Yet as Barnett and Patrick packed their nearly identical dresses for the ceremony (Patrick will wear white, Barnett, purple), they tried not to think about one fact: when they return home, their marriage won’t be legal in Florida.

“I don’t like it,” said Patrick, who sat in her living room on a recent day with her arm around her fiancee.

Same-sex unions aren’t recognized under Florida law. In 2008, Florida voters amended the state’s constitution to define marriage as a union only between one man and one woman. A gay rights group is sponsoring legislation in the upcoming session to provide domestic partnership benefits to committed same-sex couples in the state.

A same-sex couple from New York and another from Ohio also won the contest. Ohio has an amendment similar to the one passed in Florida, but gay marriage is legal in New York. The state also recognizes unions from other states.

The couples flew to New York on Wednesday. On Thursday, everyone was to rehearse for the ceremony and then tour the city.

Barnett and Patrick, who are both 37, haven’t always been in same-sex relationships – and are reluctant to identify themselves as lsbns, saying that their love “blindsided” both of them. Barnett was in a relationship with the same man for 20 years – married for many of them – and Patrick had a long-term relationship with a man. Both have children from those prior relationships.

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