S T I L W E L L, Okla., Sept. 6, 2000 -- Gloria Steinem, the feminist icon who once dismissed marriage as an institution that destroys relationships, is a first-time bride at the age of 66.

Steinem, the co-founder of Ms. magazine, married South African-born entrepreneur David Bale, 61, in rural Oklahoma on Sunday.

“Though I’ve worked many years to make marriage more equal, I never expected to take advantage of it myself,” Steinem said in a release issued by Voters for Choice, a political action committee she helped create.

“I’m happy, surprised and one day will write about it, but for now, I hope this proves what feminists have always said — that feminism is about the ability to choose what’s right at each time of our lives.”

Ceremony at Sunrise

The small ceremony attended by close family and friends took place in the Adair County home of Wilma Mankiller, former chief of the Cherokee Nation and Steinem’s friend, said Nicole Vandenberg, a Voters for Choice board member.

It was conducted at sunrise by an Oklahoma judge and Charlie Soap, a Cherokee spiritual person and Mankiller’s husband.

During the ceremony, the word “partners” was substituted for “husband and wife.”

Steinem and Bale, the father of Shaft and American Psycho actor Christian Bale, met in October 1999 at a Voters for Choice benefit in Los Angeles, Vandenberg said. Bale is a longtime supporter of the group.

An anti-apartheid activist at an early age, Bale has lived mostly in England, the release said. There, he worked as a pilot and among other projects helped import the first skateboards to the country. Bale moved to Los Angeles in 1990.

Steinem, who grew up in Toledo, Ohio, authored books including Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions and Revolution from Within.

The couple plans to divide their time between New York, where Steinem is a consulting editor to Ms. magazine, and Bales’ work and home in Los Angeles, the release said.

But don’t look for Steinem to trade her Ms. for a Mrs. She’ll keep her name, Vandenberg said.