From New York we learn that top city bigwigs and official have decided to take an unusual step forward and plan to open city offices on a Sunday so the city’s gays can marry on the first day it becomes legal.
The New York Times is reporting that the city clerk’s offices in all five boroughs will open that day, 24th July and judges will be on hand to officiate at the weddings after couples receive marriage licenses.
The decision by city officials to expedite same-sex weddings comes as city and town clerks across the state are grappling with the fact that the law goes into effect on a day when municipal offices are usually closed. Officials in some cities and towns say they are expecting a surge in marriage applications from same-sex couples.
The announcement came a day after the city began allowing gay couples to apply online for marriage licenses, though they cannot be issued until July 24 — 30 days after Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signed the same-sex-marriage legislation following its approval by the Legislature.
Ordinarily, couples must wait 24 hours after receiving a license to get married. But city officials said a number of state judges had volunteered to be on hand on July 24 to waive the waiting period and perform wedding ceremonies.
“This is a historic moment for New York,” Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said in a statement, “a moment many couples have waited years and even decades to see, and we are not going to make them wait one day longer than they have to.”
The clerk’s offices will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on July 24, and for five days afterward they will remain open for two hours beyond their set closing times to accommodate the expected volume of couples seeking marriage licenses.
“Opening on the first day we could, it makes it a special and really memorable moment for those couples and also for our city,” the City Council speaker, Christine C. Quinn, said in a telephone interview.
“We expect there might be a little bit of lines,” she added, “but we’re up to the task.”
Until the city’s announcement, same-sex couples seeking to marry as soon as legally possible faced a trip to the state’s Southern Tier to do so. Officials in Binghamton, about 140 miles northwest of New York City, announced this week that they would open their municipal offices on July 24 to accept marriage applications.
“It just seemed like, if that’s the first day that this is allowed, then we should allow people to take advantage of that,” said Sean Massey, a Binghamton councilman.
Mr. Massey said opening the office would allow Binghamton officials to avoid a rush of applications the next day. Binghamton is a few minutes from the Pennsylvania state line, so city officials also expect to receive marriage applications from out-of-state couples.
The Syracuse city clerk followed suit on Wednesday, announcing that his office would also open on July 24. “There is substantial interest in obtaining marriage licenses the day the new law goes into effect,” said Lindsay McCluskey, a spokeswoman for the city.
In telephone interviews on Wednesday, officials in several other communities said they were amenable to the idea. In Ithaca, the town clerk, Paulette Terwilliger, said she planned to publish a public service announcement alerting couples to the date. “If people are interested, I will open,” she said.
In Woodstock, the town clerk, Jacquelyn Earley, said that while she was still waiting for direction from state officials regarding same-sex marriages, she would happily accommodate anyone who wanted to apply for a marriage license on July 24. One couple has already asked that she process their paperwork as soon as the law allows, she said.
Other officials, however, are planning to stick to regular business hours, including officials in the town clerk’s office in New Paltz, where the village mayor in 2004 drew widespread criticism by performing the marriages of two dozen same-sex couples in a parking lot outside the village hall.
Also planning to keep their usual hours are Islip and Brookhaven, two Long Island towns whose boundaries encompass most of Fire Island. But officials in both towns said they would have extra staff members on hand on July 25 to process marriage applications.
“Everybody’s going to be onboard,” said the Islip town clerk, Regina V. Duffy. “We’ll be ready, willing and able.”