Michael Sabatino Jr. grew up the only child in an Italian family in the Westchester Square section of the Bronx, where 17 years of Catholic schooling left him feeling that he also should keep quiet about the churning in his heart that he said began before he was out of elementary school. He is at present part owner of Leap Technologies, a North Carolina company that manufactures laboratory equipment.
Michael & Robert met at a West Village bar on Veterans Day weekend in 1978 in New York City's Greenwich Village. In 1979 they had what is now referred to as a Commitment Ceremony in the Washington Square United Methodist Church, a ceremony that the official church does not recognize. In October of 2003 they traveled to Niagara Falls, Canada where, surrounded by friends and family members they were married in a civil ceremony. In the fall of 2004 Robert & Michael had the unusual distinction of being able to celebrate their 1st and 25th anniversaries in the same year.
They have an ordinary life doing ordinary things most couples do. In 1992 they had a 16-year-old foster child for a six month period as well as helped Michael's cousin raise her three children. In their 28 years together they also have cared for Robert's mother who lived with them and was a diabetic amputee until her passing in 1996. They also cared for Michael father who was a victim of Alzheimer's and was blind from Glaucoma.
The local paper, The Journal News, in Westchester County featured them in a front page article titled "The New Faces of Marriage". Not "Gay Marriage", but Marriage. They were also selected to have their announcement printed in the New York Times. One week after later, Michael & Robert were booted out of their Roman Catholic Church Choir. They had participated in this choir as a couple for 20 years. Having been met on the steps by the Monsignor, they were informed that in light of the recent public announcement of their marriage, they were no longer welcome to serve in a public ministry of the church.
It took both of them a year to overcome the distress they felt after the treatment they received. But their voices have not been silenced. After a year of healing they were, once again, singing in Zion Episcopal Church Choir in Dobbs Ferry, where they have been embraced as a couple by the entire congregation. They are currently part of case in NY State for marriage recognition it is at the appelate level currently.
"We love each other," Michael said in an interview in the living room of the couple's Yonkers home. "We have a home together. We have friends and family. We want to be able to tell people we're married. We're proud of the fact that we're a couple."
"That little piece of paper?" Robert said. "There's an emotional attachment to it."