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May 13, 2013

Doctor, hospital help gay couple marry

By Denise Richardson Staff Writer
The Daily Star

---- — After almost 40 years together, a couple from Roseboom has tied the knot. 

Bill Warren, 75, and Renard Latour, 59, were married Wednesday at O’Connor Hospital in Delhi. The Rev. Bert More led the couple in their vows as about 25 employees and friends watched. 

“It is a privilege for me and a privilege for all of us here to be part of this day,’’ More said. 

New York legalized gay marriage in 2011. Warren and Latour said they were glad the day had come when their relationship could be recognized legally, and Warren said being married was “sweet.”

“We’re regular people — always were regular people,” Warren said. “We’re not running around in the shadows any more.” 

Edward McGrath, director of operations for O’Connor Hospital, said the wedding the was result of efforts by Dr. Alberto Gaitan, who reached out to the staff and the community and arranged for everything from procuring the license to finding an official for the service. McGrath said he knew of “probably two’’ other marriages at the hospital that were conducted at a bedside. 

Gaitan, who recognized that the couple faced some challenges in arranging the wedding, credited teamwork among hospital employees with making the event happen. Also, Circle of Life, a privately owned ambulette service in Delaware County, provided transportation from the hospital to the Delhi town clerk’s office so that Warren, who is disabled, could sign a marriage certificate, he said. 

Warren said that he is weak from a fall that injured his spinal column, and that he and Latour are looking for a nursing home for his continued care. 

Latour said he is Warren’s proxy regarding medical care. But though the records are clear and they have been partners for almost 40 years, Latour said, he still faced some questions and challenges. With married status, the relationship is clear and will help in efforts to seek care for Warren, he said. 

The marriage license legalizes a relationship that has existed many years, Latour said.

“We were as married as anybody,’’ he said.

On Wednesday afternoon in the hospital’s board room, the focus was on the official public commitment ceremony.

“It’s like any wedding — it’s about the couple getting married,’’ More said. 

Gaitan, wearing a light-colored suit instead of a white physician’s coat, walked quickly along the hallway, checking to see if arrangements were complete and if the couple was en route to the 1 p.m. service.

“I’m very happy for them,’’ he said. 

More led the service in the hospital board room, which was decorated with a big sign that said “Congratulations.’’ Latour, wearing black pants and a cherry red shirt, stood next to a wheelchair carrying Warren, who wore an off-white shirt trimmed in red-and-blue cross-stitch. 

“Are you two ready for this?’’ More asked the couple before him.

“I’ve got a good man,’’ Warren said. 

Several times, Latour stroked the back of Warren’s head. 

More asked if they would love, honor and cherish each other.

“I sure will,” Latour said.

“You have found the gift and the grace to share together and to be together,’’ More said. “I just think it’s remarkable and amazing that the two of you have found each other and stayed with each other.’’ 

The couple has lived in Roseboom since the early 1990s, though they had visited the area for a decade before settling there. They previously lived in New York City, where they had a wallpapering and painting business. 

“Anyone who knew us, knew we were a committed couple,’’ Warren said. 

On Wednesday, the party toasted the couple with punch. Marble cake trimmed with blue frosting and other sweets were served.

“It is wonderful to see Bill and Renard have the right to commit legally on paper,’’ said Bob Whiteman, a friend from Cherry Valley. 

O’Connor Hospital, a critical access hospital licensed for 23 beds, is part of the Bassett Healthcare Network.

William Schaumloffel said he was hospitalized recently and shared a room with Warren. Schumloffel and his wife, Rosemary, returned Wednesday for the wedding.

“History was made in Delhi today,’’ Schaumloffel said.