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NYC to Marry All Lesbian and Gay Couples in Same-Sex Marriage Lottery

NYC to Marry All Lesbian and Gay Couples in Same-Sex Marriage Lottery

823 couples entered the lottery to win one of 764 available spaces in New York City on Sunday, when the new marriage equality law takes effect, and the Big Apple plans to marry all of them. City officials said Thursday evening that Manhattan saw the highest demand, with 533 entries for 400 available slots. All applicants to clerk’s offices in the other four boroughs received a slot in the location they requested. Applicants could only apply to one borough. The lottery opened on Tuesday at noon and closed on Thursday at noon

823 couples entered the lottery to win one of 764 available spaces in New York City on Sunday, when the new marriage equality law takes effect, and the Big Apple plans to marry all of them.

City officials said Thursday evening that Manhattan saw the highest demand, with 533 entries for 400 available slots. All applicants to clerk’s offices in the other four boroughs received a slot in the location they requested. Applicants could only apply to one borough. The lottery opened on Tuesday at noon and closed on Thursday at noon.

Marc LaVorgna, a spokesman for Mayor Michael Bloomberg, said that in order to accommodate all the couples in the lottery, the number of slots in Manhattan would be increased to 459. The remaining 74 couples that wanted to marry in Manhattan will be offered a place in one of the other four boroughs, which will put Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island at capacity if all the couples accept the offer.

Notifications to couples in the lottery are ongoing.

The city announced the lottery earlier this week in response to overwhelming preliminary demand for marriage licenses online, where more than 2,600 couples, most of them same-sex and from New York City, applied since July 5. Officials wanted to make sure the city could accommodate all the couples, with Valentine Day’s 2003 standing as the record for the maximum number of couples – 621 – ever married in one day in New York City.

If necessary, the Manhattan clerk’s office will remain open beyond the scheduled closing time of 4:30 p.m. to accommodate the increased number of couples guaranteed service on Sunday. Volunteer judges will be hand on in all boroughs to waive the normal 24-hour waiting period between the issuing of a marriage license and when a ceremony can take place. Once couples obtain their license and waiver on Sunday, they may choose to be married at the clerk's office, or hold the ceremony in any other location of their choosing.

Couples who entered the lottery are encouraged to arrive in the morning on Sunday, when offices in the five boroughs will open at 8:30 a.m., and no later than 3:45 p.m. for guaranteed access.

Couples that did enter the lottery should not visit the clerks’ offices in New York City on Sunday. City officials advise those couples to plan on visiting the clerks’ offices throughout the following week, when extended service hours will be in effect to accommodate the expected surge in couples seeking marriages.

Clerks' offices in some other New York municipalities will also be open on Sunday and couples interested in marrying may check with the specific locations throughout the state.

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Julie Bolcer