NYC expands gay weddings to include all applicants

July 22, 2011 5:23:34 AM PDT
New York City is expanding its same-sex marriage plans for Sunday so all 823 couples who entered the city's nuptial lottery will have the chance to wed on the first day gay marriage is legal, the mayor's office said Thursday.

Initially, 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 the 48-hour lottery had drawn to a close on Thursday, 823 couples had signed up - 59 more than the city had planned to accommodate.

City officials decided to adjust their plans so that no one will be turned away, although 74 couples are being asked to move their celebrations from Manhattan to one of the city's other four boroughs, said Marc LaVorgna, a spokesman for Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

More than 530 couples had asked for a slot at the city's Manhattan venue, where celebratory crowds and television cameras are expected to gather on Sunday morning. The city clerk's offices will stay open until each couple has been served, but would-be brides and grooms must arrive by 3:45 p.m., LaVorgna said.

Once they arrive, couples will be seen by judges who will perform three steps all at once: granting a marriage license, granting (on a case-by-case basis) a waiver of the waiting period and performing a ceremony. Couples who wish to have their ceremony performed elsewhere in the city are free to skip the final step and instead head to their chosen location.

The city clerk's office is also planning expanded operations next week for any couples that may have preferred to avoid the Sunday crush. The office is bringing in extra judges and staff and staying open two extra hours each day to handle anticipated demand.

The one exception to the lottery system is the wedding that the mayor himself is officiating Sunday. John Feinblatt, Bloomberg's chief policy adviser, and Department of Consumer Affairs Commissioner Jonathan Mintz are to wed at Gracie Mansion.

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