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NYC Unveils Lottery to Accommodate Expected Crush of Same-Sex Weddings

by Michael K. Lavers
National News Editor
Tuesday Jul 19, 2011
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New York City officials on Tuesday, July 19, unveiled a lottery system designed to accommodate the crush of couples who hope to tie the knot on the day the state’s marriage equality law takes effect.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and City Clerk Michael McSweeney announced the lottery, which will allow 764 same-sex or heterosexual couples access to one of the City Clerk’s five offices on Sunday, July 24, at a City Hall press conference. The lottery opened at noon on Tuesday, July 19, and will close at noon on Thursday, July 21.

"We are going to make history on Sunday, with the eyes of the nation once again turning to New York City," said Bloomberg. "We’ve done our homework, and it’s clear that the number of couples who want to marry on Sunday is more than the City Clerk’s offices could possibly handle. And the last thing we want is for couples to wait on line for hours and hours, only to walk away upset on what was supposed to be the happiest day of their lives. The fairest way to determine who gets the chance to wed on Sunday and ensure everyone can properly plan for their own big day is through an even-handed lottery system. Nobody puts on big events like New York and we will be ready on Sunday for what will no doubt be an historic and unforgettable moment."

Quinn echoed Bloomberg.

"The city of New York will make history on July 24th and we will honor this day in the most meaningful and respectful way possible," she said. "This efficient and effective process for managing the first day of marriage equality in the five boroughs will maximize the excitement and dignity for all."

Governor Andrew Cuomo signed New York’s marriage equality bill into law on June 24 after the state Senate approved it in a 33-29 vote.

A handful of clerks have resigned over their opposition to nuptials for gays and lesbians. Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice told clerks within her jurisdiction earlier this month that they could face criminal charges if they deny a marriage license to a same-sex couple.

"The record-breaking number of couples registering to marry shows how popular-and right-passing marriage equality was," said Brian Ellner of the Human Rights Campaign. "Mayor Bloomberg and Speaker Quinn took this great problem to have and came up with a good solution. There will be a lot of love at the City Clerk’s Office on Sunday. Every lawmaker, Democrat and Republican, should take heart that New York families are all the stronger."

Log onto the City Clerk’s website for more information about the registry.

Based in Washington, D.C., Michael K. Lavers has appeared in the New York Times, BBC, WNYC, Huffington Post, Village Voice, Advocate and other mainstream and LGBT media outlets. He is an unapologetic political junkie who thoroughly enjoys living inside the Beltway.

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