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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.

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The Republican-controlled Senate approved the bill by a vote of 33-29, with four Republicans and all but one Democrat in support. Until the final vote was held late on the night of June 24, it was unclear whether the bill would pass, or meet the same fate as the state’s previous gay marriage bills.

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“I never thought this would be an option for me,” said Alfred Gonzales, as he waited outside the Manhattan Clerk’s office.

“We both thought we would die bachelors,” said his partner of 17 years, and soon-to-be-husband, Tom Allsup. Before they headed downtown, Mr. Allsup posted Wagner’s “Bridal Chorus” on his Facebook page as an impromptu wedding announcement.

Many of Sunday’s newlyweds viewed the new law and their own marriages as an act of basic fairness.

“It’s just a matter of civil rights,” said Barbara Tremblay, before kissing her new wife, Stacey Minondo, on the steps of the Brooklyn Clerk’s office.

“They shouldn’t discriminate based on who you love,” said Ms. Tremblay, stirring cheers from a crowd of supporters waving signs.

In Manhattan, Jeannette Marquez made a similar argument.

“We pay the same taxes and we have families we need to protect,” Ms. Marquez said, standing next to her fiancé, Kerry Jardine. “And we’re crazy about each other.”

Several couples said the success of the gay marriage law this year reflects growing public support for same-sex matrimony. That notion is backed by recent, nationwide polls, such as a Gallup poll in May that showed 53 percent of Americans support legalized same-sex marriage – the first majority Gallup ever recorded on the issue.

Still, approval for same-sex marriage is far from universal. At least two groups staged protests Sunday: the Westboro Baptist Church, from Topeka, Kansas, and the National Organization for Marriage, headquartered in Washington, D.C.

“It doesn’t matter if all 10 million New Yorkers hold hands and agree, God still hates same-sex marriage,” said Margie Phelps of the Westboro group, during a protest outside the Brooklyn Clerk’s office.

Elsewhere in the city, Mayor Michael Bloomberg acted as an officiant for the wedding of two staffers from his office, and Governor Andrew Cuomo hosted a reception for gay rights groups. Both men offered strong support of the bill, with Mr. Cuomo’s advocacy in particular widely cited as key to the law’s success.

In Brooklyn, a low-key couple in khaki pants and polo shirts strolled out of the municipal building Sunday morning without attracting the attention of the crowd of onlookers or the small army of reporters. They were the first gay couple to be married in Brooklyn.

“This will be part of history,” said Bobby Amagna. His new husband, and 18-year partner, Michael Furey, noted that the judge who conducted their marriage ceremony cried afterwards.

“We will be dead, but this will still be on the History Channel,” said Mr. Amagna. Mr. Furey laughed, then said he hoped that day was still a long way off.

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