By The Associated Press
NEW YORK (AP) — Gay couples cheered by supporters began marrying Sunday in New York City on the first day same-sex weddings became legal in the Empire State, marking a pivotal moment in the national drive for recognition.
New York City officials expect to host hundreds of same-sex weddings Sunday. About 100 couples waited in line on a sweltering morning for the chance to exchange vows at the city clerk’s office. Johnny Lee, 30, and Sebastian Barleben, wore black tuxedoes as they waited for their turn.
“We contemplated whether the tuxes were a good idea in this weather, but we wanted to look the part,” Lee said, wiping his brow.
Some of the couples clutched bouquets. One woman waited on line with a bridal dress.
New York became the sixth, and largest, state to allow gay marriages last month, a highly anticipated vote that was viewed as a pivotal moment in the national gay rights movement and was expected to galvanize supporters and opponents alike.
Clerks in New York City and about a dozen other cities statewide are opening their doors Sunday to cater to same-sex couples. In New York City, judges waived a mandatory 24-hour waiting period that allowed couples to exchange vows moments after receiving their licenses.
Initially, New York City officials had projected that about 2,500 couples might show up at the city clerk’s offices hoping to get married on Sunday, but by the time a 48-hour lottery had drawn to a close on Thursday, 823 couples had signed up — 59 more than the city had planned to accommodate. The city will perform ceremonies for all 823.
The first couples got married at the stroke of midnight Sunday in every corner of the state, from Niagara Falls to the capital in Albany to Long Island.