* New York's same-sex marriage law takes effect Sunday
* City officials say they are prepared for historic day
By Bernd Debusmann Jr.
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Overwhelmed by marriage
applications from gay and lesbian couples who can wed under a
new law starting Sunday, New York City is conducting a
lottery to decide who will be allowed to marry that day.
City officials said on Tuesday that 764 couples were
expected to be married Sunday, more than the city's previous
single-day high of 621 on Valentine's Day in 2003 and 610
marriages on Aug. 8, 2008.
"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," Mayor Michael Bloomberg
said at a news conference in explaining the lottery.
Couples can register in the lottery between noon on Tuesday
and noon on July 21 if they want to marry at any of the five
city clerk's offices on Sunday. Winners will be selected
"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," Bloomberg said.
He urged those who do not win the lottery to consider going
on Monday or another day.
Bloomberg and other city officials said that 2,661 online
applications had been made since July 5, of which 1,728 were
same-sex couples benefiting from New York State's Marriage
Equality Act, which was signed into law by Governor Andrew
Cuomo on June 24.
The law made the state the sixth and most populous in the
United States to allow same-sex marriage.
Clerk's offices are normally closed on Sundays, but
officials across the state said they would open them to marry
same-sex couples on the first day the law takes effect.
At least two town clerks in the state, citing religious
objections, have resigned to avoid being forced to sign
licenses for gay and lesbian couples.
"We will be completely prepared and ready," City Clerk
Michael McSweeney told reporters. "We look forward to being a
part of history."
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who is expected to
marry her woman partner under the new law but not enter the
lottery, said many judges had volunteered to perform ceremonies
and speed up the process.
"That's what happens when you pass laws that expand human
rights, you unite people," Quinn said at the same news
"We want to make as many New Yorkers have the most
important part of their life be that first Sunday."
(Reporting by Bernd Debusmann Jr.; Writing by Grant McCool;
Editing by Paul Simao)
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