Hundreds of same-sex couples say 'I do' in New York
Sunday was the first day gay couples could be legally married in New York. Hundreds lined up to say "I do." New York brings to six the number of states where such marriages can be performed.
In New York City, hundreds of jubilant same-sex couples waited in long lines for a chance to be married on Sunday, the first day that gay partners could officially wed in the nation’s latest and most populous state to legalize gay marriage.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
“It symbolizes equality. But it also symbolizes that this is about love and families, as much as it is about laws,” Greg Payton said before walking hand-in-hand into the City Clerk’s office in Brooklyn with his fiancé, Robert Lafferty.
Sunday marked the nine-year anniversary of the day the two men met. Shortly before noon, it became their wedding day.
The Marriage Equality Act was passed and signed on June 24, but did not go into effect until Sunday. The law adds New York to the list of five other states that permit same-sex marriages: Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont, as well as the District of Columbia.
Forty-one other states prohibit gay marriage, through laws or constitutional amendments that reserve the right to wed for opposite-sex couples, according to a count by the Human Rights Campaign.
New York City organized an online lottery earlier in the week for couples to reserve spots at the City Clerk’s offices, which grants marriage licenses and can perform civil marriage ceremonies. By the close of the lottery on Thursday, 823 couples had applied for 764 spots.
Soon after, the city announced that all 823 applicant couples could wed on Sunday, which would surpass the city’s previous single-day record of 621 marriages performed on Valentine’s Day 2003. More than 60 judges in the city and dozens of others around the state volunteered to sign forms Sunday to waive the required 24-hour waiting period between the issuance of a marriage license and the wedding ceremony.
Many gay couples hoping to wed on Sunday said they had been disappointed by the state legislature’s past failures to approve previous same-sex marriage bills, and were worried they would never become legal spouses.
Kim Waldon had her surname legally changed in 2005. In 2008, the women traveled to California to be married – only to be thwarted by Proposition 8, a ballot initiative passed that November, which made same-sex marriages unconstitutional in that state.
For the couple, Sunday represented a “new beginning.”
“It’s a day of empowerment,” said Rhonda Waldon. “It’s official now.”
One of the state legislators who voted for New York’s gay marriage law, Democratic Senator Tom Duane, stopped by the Manhattan clerk’s office Sunday morning to congratulate some of the more than 400 same-sex couples scheduled to wed there.