Wedding Bells Will Ring on July 24 in New York City

New York City will open its clerk’s offices on Sunday, July 24, to allow same-sex couples to wed on the first day the state’s gay marriage bill goes into effect, officials said this week. Although clerk’s offices in the five boroughs are normally closed on weekends, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said that for this momentous occasion, they will open.“This is a historic moment for New York, 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,” Bloomberg stated.

Despite a bureaucratic gaffe on the first day marriage license applications became available, whereby applications still used the terms ‘bride’ and ‘groom,’ the city clerk’s offices have been largely accommodating to the influx of same-sex couples looking to wed.

For instance, while state law generally requires couples to wait 24 hours after receiving a marriage license before they can wed, on July 24 state judges will volunteer to perform ceremonies and review requests for waivers of the 24-hour waiting period, according to the mayor’s office.

Additionally, the New York City clerk’s offices will be open two hours later than usual for the first five weekdays after the bill goes into effect.

Last month, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the state’s Marriage Equality Act into law, making New York the sixth and most populous state to allow gay marriage. On June 24 the state Senate passed the bill by a 33-29 margin.

“This state, when it’s at its finest, is a beacon for social justice,” said Cuomo, who spearheaded the effort. “We reached a new level of social justice this evening.”

July has been a notable month for gay rights activism: In New York, activists are celebrating passage of the Marriage Equality Act; in California lawmakers passed a bill that would require public schools recognize and incorporate the historical contributions of gays and lesbians; and on Wednesday, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the federal government to stop enforcing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

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