Two men marry at O'Connor Hospital

Above: A mini-documentary on the wedding of William Warren and Renard Latour, shot by local filmmaker Jessica Vecchione of Vecc Videography.

New York State law barred William Warren and Renard Latour from marrying for almost four decades. 

But when the couple decided to marry this spring, it wasn't the law that stood in their way. It was less than a mile of road between O'Connor Hospital and the Delhi town clerk's office -- a road that 75-year-old Warren, paralyzed in all four limbs, could not travel without medical help.

On Wednesday, May 8, Warren and Latour were married at O'Connor Hospital, in front of a small group of witnesses that included doctors, nurses, hospital staff, family and friends, a documentary filmmaker, and Warren's former hospital roommate, who showed up with his wife.

The wedding might never have happened without the intervention of Warren's doctor, Alberto Gaitan.

"One day I walked into the room and Bill was being groomed. I said, 'Oh, you're getting a haircut, you look so handsome. What's going on?' He said, 'I'm getting married,'" Gaitan said. "Then I heard that Renard had been to the town clerk and the clerk had refused to come to the hospital for Bill's signature."

Gaitan declined to reveal specific details of Warren's medical condition, but said that Warren's health issues were urgent enough that he thought the couple was racing the clock.

"His prognosis is not good," Gaitan said. "They wanted to do this quick. It's one day at a time." 

Gaitan stepped in to help the couple navigate the red tape, and soon he and other hospital staffers found themselves planning a wedding. Some of the preparations were routine, like getting a cake and decorations. Others appeared more formidable -- like arranging for an ambulette to bring the gravely ill Warren to the town clerk's office to sign the certificate, and finding an officiant willing to perform a same-sex wedding in the heart of conservative Delaware County. 

But in the end, the community rallied around the couple. The Hobart-based Circle of Life ambulette service agreed to donate Warren's ride to the town clerk's office, which could not be covered by insurance. The Rev. Bert More, pastor of the Presbyterian churches in Hobart and South Kortright, agreed to perform the ceremony. Hospital staff worked with Warren to train him to sign his own name -- a task that is difficult for Warren, who has very limited use of his arms.

Gaitan, who is the hospital's medical director, says "wedding planner" isn't really in his job description.

"It was incredible. Just incredible. I've never planned a wedding," he said. "It was nothing you expect doing in your lifetime in the hospital."

Gaitan said that Latour is working to get Warren into a nursing home closer to the couple's home in Roseboom, about 50 miles north of Delhi. Until a long-term care situation can be found for him, Warren cannot leave O'Connor. 

More, a longtime local pastor who has also served at the Margaretville and New Kingston Presbyterian churches, said that this was his first hospital wedding.

"It was very special for everybody there. And it wasn't overly rehearsed or overly practiced, everybody just came together and made it happen," More said. "The sense of doing something special for two people who couldn't quite do it on their own was a really neat thing."

Asked what his congregation thought of More presiding over a same-sex wedding, the pastor said he had indeed gotten some ribbing -- for getting his name into the Daily Star.

"They've seen pictures, they know I've been in the paper," he said. "All I've heard is, 'Boy, you know how to make it to the front page.'"