June 26, 2011

NY Clerks Office Getting Ready For Lots Of More Weddings

ALBANY — From City Hall in Manhattan to rural hamlets upstate, New York officials began to prepare on Saturday for a surge in gay couples expected to flood clerks’ offices next month seeking to marry. 
Todd Heisler/The New York Times
In Queens on Saturday, Daniel Dromm, a City Council member, invited his community to help cut a celebratory wedding cake.  

 The state’s same-sex marriage law, which was signed by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo just before midnight on Friday, will go into effect in 30 days, meaning that gay couples can marry here beginning on July 24.
Gay couples from out of state will also be allowed to apply for wedding licenses and hold nuptials in New York.
Roughly 45,000 gay couples live in New York State, according to census estimates. No exact projection is available for how many will marry here, but officials are readying for thousands, especially in the first week.
“We are training our staff to be prepared for a very large number of people on the first day,” said Michael McSweeney, the New York City clerk, who oversees the marriage bureau. “We are going to be part of history.”
The city has struck an agreement to increase the number of state judges available to perform same-sex marriages. Their workload could swell; John Feinblatt, a top adviser to the mayor, said judges could be bombarded by requests to circumvent the 24-hour waiting period.
Over the next 30 days, state officials must also rewrite the marriage license application form and distribute it to the hundreds of city and town clerks. In Oneonta, a college town of about 14,000 people in central New York, the city clerk, James R. Koury, was expecting a surge in applications, especially on the first day.
“I think we’re probably going to have people coming that day, and I’m looking forward to it,” Mr. Koury said.
The marriage bill was approved in the State Senate late Friday night by a vote of 33 to 29. Four Republicans joined all but one Democrat in supporting the measure after a lengthy and often-heated campaign.
The state’s political establishment is watching closely to see what kind of backlash those four Republicans will face. Already, the National Organization for Marriage, an advocacy group, is pledging to raise $2 million in a bid to defeat them.
New York is now the sixth and largest state to permit same-sex marriage, joining Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont, along with the District of Columbia.
After the passage of the legislation, the governor declared that New York had resumed its role as a “beacon for social justice.” Mr. Cuomo, the prime mover of the bill, is expected to march in the city’s gay pride parade on Sunday, which will likely be an emotional and overflowing gathering. His past appearance at the parade was attacked by his Republican opponent, Carl P. Paladino, during the campaign for governor last year. Mr. Paladino criticized Mr. Cuomo for taking his teenage daughter to march alongside him.
The governor is certain to be a major attraction this year in the procession, which sweeps down Fifth Avenue and across Greenwich Village. Attendance is typically 1.5 million; this year, organizers expect an additional 500,000 to 1 million people.
“The phones have been ringing off the hook!” said Britton Hogge, the media director for Heritage of Pride, which runs the parade. “It’s going to be one big celebration, a catharsis, if you will. This has been building for some time.”
Ross Levi, the executive director of the Empire State Pride Agenda, said, “Its going to be the biggest street party ever.”
In the hours after the vote Friday night, people danced, embraced and sang in the streets of the West Village. On Saturday morning, smaller celebrations continued to break out. Councilman Daniel Dromm, who is gay, brought a wedding cake and homemade cupcakes to the local post office in Jackson Heights, Queens, which has seen an influx of gay residents over the past decade, and invited supporters to enjoy a slice.
Passage of the legislation is expected to spawn a cottage industry around same-sex marriage in the state. The city estimated in 2009 that the state economy would gain up to $210 million over the first three years of same-sex marriage.
The change, of course, will mean fewer gay New Yorkers traveling to Massachusetts and Connecticut and spending money on weddings there.
“We’ve actually had a long stream of residents from Manhattan and other parts of New York come up to Connecticut for the weekend to have their marriage ceremony and reception here,” Andrew J. McDonald, general counsel to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy of Connecticut.
In Kingston, N.Y., a small town 90 miles north of Manhattan, the entrepreneur Paul Joffe said he was dusting off plans to turn the decommissioned Methodist church that he bought six years ago into a mecca for same-sex weddings.
“The moment it’s legal, I want people to be there,” he said.

Elizabeth A. Harris and Mick Meenan contributed reporting

No comments:

Featured Posts

Ways {{FIVE}} to Prevent and Prepare for The Corona Virus

NPR   As the coronavirus spreads around the globe, there are steps you can take to protect yourself and your family.   ...