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Gay Couples Marry In New York (LIVE BLOG)

New York Gay Wedding

First Posted: 07/24/11 11:25 AM ET Updated: 09/23/11 06:12 AM ET

NEW YORK (AP) — Gay couples cheered by supporters have begun marrying in New York City on the first day same-sex weddings are legal in the Empire State.

New York City officials expect to host hundreds of same-sex weddings Sunday. Clerks in New York City and about a dozen other cities statewide are opening their doors Sunday to cater to same-sex couples.

In Manhattan, the first of about 100 couples waiting in line on a sweltering Sunday began exchanging vows in a city clerk's office. Judges waived a mandatory 24-hour waiting period that allowed couples to exchange vows moments after receiving their licenses.

A small number of same-sex couples got married at the stroke of midnight around the state.

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Photos, plus a new report from Matt Sledge here.

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Wedding Reception at the NYC LGBT Center

A crowd of about 150 people gathered at the LGBT Center in Manhattan's West Village Sunday night to toast to newlywed gay couples -- and to the advocacy groups who helped earn them the right to marry.

The champagne was flowing in fluted glasses, flowers adorned the tables, and many in attendance wore blue sashes from the Empire State Pride Agenda that read "Just Married."

New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, speaking of same-sex marriage's opponents, said "they thought, I think because they talk about religion, that we lack faith."

But she warned those opponents that gay marriage "is the law of the land, and it is going to stay that way." Quinn thanked representatives from the groups that make up New Yorkers United For Marriage for "never losing faith."

State Senator Tom Duane, who sponsored the Marriage Equality Act, thanked all in attendance, and saluted the "biiiiiii-partisan" vote that made it a reality. His mention of Republican state senators who had supported the measure drew special applause.

-- Matt Sledge

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@ SeanEldridge : Great article about local families. "Children Open Up About Their Same-Sex Parents"-Peekskill-Cortlandt http://t.co/opwxsK4 @PeekskillPatch

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@ azipaybarah : The first #ssm @ Gracie Mansion & the first officiated by a #nyc mayor. @MikeBloomberg http://yfrog.com/kkfq1zej

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@mgsledge At LGBT Center marriage celebration. Sen Duane speaking

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@ Gothamist : Google Maps Joins In On Gay Marriage Celebration Today http://bit.ly/nOlwQs

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@ benpolitico : 484 same sex marriages in nyc today, per City Hall.

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@ mgsledge : Intro speaker reiterating that "this is not an anti-gay" rally, disassociating rally from Westboro group

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@msledge: a couple of Jewish guys hit the bestiality theme:

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For great photos from today's weddings at the Manhattan city clerk's office, go here. Below, Shane Hoffman and Michael Goddard get married this morning at the Manhattan city clerk's office.

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The lone Democrat who voted against the Marriage Equality Act in the New York state senate is also wearing a shirt with his own name written across the back.

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From Carroll-Gardens Patch: "Standing across the street from the Brooklyn Marriage Bureau at Borough Hall as several gay and lesbian couples emerged from their wedding ceremonies, the Kansas-based church was almost entirely ignored as they held up signs such as “God Hates Fags” to voice their disapproval."

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The National Organization for Marriage will protest outside Governor Cuomo's office at 3 p.m. A crowd has already begun to gather.

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@ thomaskaplan : Cuomo on #gaymarriage taking effect: "I don't think this is just about gay people…this is a statement that we should all feel good about."

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@ Rueby : In #nyc, orthodox #ssm protester chased down sidewalk by rollerskater in sequined bra, veil + angel wings. (via @MichaelPaulson @samdolnick)

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Michael Goddard didn't know he was going to get married -- not until just a couple days ago, when his partner, Shane Hoffman, informed him that they had won the city's marriage lottery.

As soon as the Marriage Equality Act passed in New York, their friend Cara Forney explained, "Shane started plotting." He entered the lottery on the sly. Friends and family from Maine to Arizona, some of them on fewer than 48 hours notice, sped to New York to witness the couple as they ushered in the historic day.

Hoffman's father, Harrison, came from Maine -- but he wasn't put off by the short notice in the least. Instead, the proud father, in a suit and pink tie, was beaming, along with his wife. Just a little while ago, he said, he had "never thought" about his son getting married. But "moments in history happen quickly," he said, and he was glad to be in New York for the occasion.

As the wedding party of about a dozen made their way into the chapel for a civil ceremony, they were met by Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Paul Wooten, who stood at the ready to waive the otherwise required 24-hour waiting period between a marriage license and a marriage. The room was plain but serene. Hoffman wore a jacket, and Goddard had on a dress shirt and navy slacks.

"There is no other institution as strong as the union which you will form here today," Wooten told them.

Hoffman, struggling through tears, thanked his about-to-be husband "for being my light, my love."

"You believe in me like nobody ever has," Goddard replied. "I will always be there for you."

Wooten told the two they were about to be married "in accordance with the laws of the state of New York," which elicited a few laughs, and then he made it official.

Hoffman and Goddard kissed. Their families, slightly bleary from their travels, cheered and wept.

-- Matt Sledge

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@ CarolynBMaloney : Congratulations to all the New Yorkers getting married today, and in the future! #marriageequality

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@ thomaskaplan : Still a line of more than a block outside the Manhattan clerk's office. http://twitpic.com/5v83gx

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Inside the City Clerk's office, things were a bit of a madhouse. Scores of couples and wedding party members dashed to and fro, taking pictures, laughing, and waiting for their numbers to be called. Flat-panel monitors flashed announcements -- "Now serving: C 705 at Counter 8" -- and volunteers, sounding a bit like carnival barkers, repeated the numbers.

The Manhattan Marriage Bureau, remodeled a couple years ago to great fanfare, looked sparkling. Families waiting their turns lounged on plush couches, chandeliers dangled, and city workers grinned.

One couple waiting to get married, Laura Moore and MaryAnn Bellomo, carried a sign saying they had been "illegally married" since May 16, 1998. Moore and Bellomo, who live in Washington Heights, have been in a relationship for 15 years.

"We had a big wedding without a license," Moore explained. Back then, neither of the women were sure they would ever be legally married in the state of New York. But they fought for that right anyway, marching in protests with the sign -- and they always held out hope.

"We saved the second half of our wedding album to fill with pictures some day," Moore said. "That day has come."

-- Matt Sledge

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@ ChrisCQuinn : Greg Levine and Shane Serkiz, first male couple to be married in Queens #LGBT #equality http://t.co/OSA1vG3

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Outside the Louis J. Lefkowitz State Office Building this morning, hundreds of couples were lined up, unbowed by the heat and generally beaming with happiness. They were joined by hordes of exuberant friends, family and well-wishers. Across Worth Street, a handful of members from Fred Phelps' Westboro Baptist Church were on hand to protest the event -- but between the cheerful crowds, smiling volunteers passing out sunflowers, and puppets from Avenue Q, their message was mostly ignored.

The line just to get into the building stretched around the block. Despite temperatures hovering near 90 degrees, many couples were dressed up in suits, dresses, or other elaborate wedding outfits. One such pair, Dave Lewis and Adam McKew, wore kilts to celebrate their Irish and Scottish heritage. They said they had been together for seven years -- to the day.

"I'm going to jump for joy," Lewis said. Moments before speaking with The Huffington Post, the couple had been congratulated by City Council Speaker Christine Quinn as she passed by. "She's a very special lady," Lewis said, referring to the role Quinn played in getting the Marriage Equality Act passed.

Further towards the entrance, Jeffrey Farber and Michael Roma were preparing to obtain their own marriage license inside the building. They said they had been together for 32 years. It was only three months ago, Farber noted, that they had begun considering marriage -- and then at first only so he would be able to use his partner's health insurance plan. But now they were looking forward to it, Roma said, because "it's nice to have the right" to marry.

Three decades into their relationship, the Chelsea couple had low-key plans for the rest of the day. Farber, an actor, was going to do some laundry. They said they would celebrate later, on Labor Day -- their "actual anniversary."

Mary Opler of Brooklyn was 15 or 20 demonstrators twirling rainbow-colored umbrellas who showed up to counter the five or so people from Westboro. Opler said she was there because Phelps' followers were "just so utterly nasty. I didn't want anybody's day to be ruined." She said she was the daughter of two gay fathers and she's a lesbian herself. Today, she added, "is about love and being a couple."

-- Matt Sledge

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A state Supreme Court judge waives the 24-hour waiting period so a couple can exchange vows immediately after receiving their marriage license.

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@ MichaelPaulson : The protest scene: “You’re going to the chapel where you’ll see your final do-oo-oo-oom.” - http://nyti.ms/pXcvbp

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@ CityHallNews : We run into Sen.Tom Duane, sweating, with his partner of 19 yrs at clerk's office. "between the schvitzing and the crying I'm all wet."

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@ mgsledge : First couple, Phyllis Siegel and Connie Kopelov, emerges from City Clerk's office http://t.co/H5gpIx9

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The New York Times profiles Michael Fury, 62, and Bobby Bienvenido, 65, who have been together 18 years. "By 9 a.m., wearing matching white polo shirts and slacks, they had become the first same-sex couple to wed at the Brooklyn Municipal Building."

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Phyllis Siegel, 76, arms raised, and Connie Kopelov, 84, in wheelchair, both of New York, celebrate after becoming the first same-sex couple to get married at the Manhattan city clerk's office, Sunday, July 24, 2011, in New York. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)

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Filed by Christopher Mathias  |