Overwhelming crowds are expected to visit county clerks’ offices on Sunday, the first day same-sex marriage will be allowed in New York State. To maintain the crowd and still offer unprecedented service (the city expects four times the usual number of permits to be issued Sunday), Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Council Speaker Christine Quinn have announced a lottery for anyone wishing to marry on July 24.
“We are going to make history on Sunday, with the eyes of the nation once again turning to New York City,” said Mayor 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.”
The lottery will be open for entries from noon on July 19 to noon on July 21. Anyone wishing to be married on the 24th—including those who have pre-registered for licenses—must enter the lottery by visiting nyc.gov or calling 311. Wedding license recipients will be randomly selected from all applicants on July 22.
“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,” Bloomberg said. “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.”
Lottery entrants must also specify one of the five borough offices where they wish to receive their license. The Queens office will have 112 available spots, as will Brooklyn. The Manhattan office will issue 400 licenses.
“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,” said Speaker Quinn. “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. … We wish everyone luck in this lottery, and more importantly we wish everyone a lucky, healthy, happy marriage.”
More than 60 judges have volunteered to review applications and issue waivers for the 24-hour waiting period normally required under state law.
The 764 couples expected to marry on the 24th will stretch far beyond the two previous record days: there were 621 marriages on Valentine’s Day in 2003 and 610 marriages on August 8, 2008.