Same-Sex Couples Rush To Plan Weddings In NYC
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — With New York becoming the sixth state – and the largest – in the union to legalize same-sex marriage, many couples now are getting set to enjoy their newly-won legal status.
Couples can legally begin pre-applying for a $35 marriage license starting July 5. On July 25, New York State will begin issuing those licenses.
Under special circumstances, gay and lesbian couples will be able to obtain a waiver from a judge and get married immediately. Most other same-sex couples would be allowed to get hitched the next day, on July 26.
If demand is high enough, the City Clerk’s Office is prepared to extend its hours and make more judges available to perform civil ceremonies.
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“I believe New York has sent a message to this nation loud and clear. It is time for marriage equality all across this country,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.
Legalization of same-sex marriage in New York, however, did not put an end to the controversy. Local clergy are divided over the new law, and some lawmakers outside the Empire State were vowing not to follow Albany’s lead.
“I believe marriage should be between one man and one woman. That’s my view, and that’ll be the view of our state because I wouldn’t sign a bill like the one that was in New York,” New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said.
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New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan, who has spoken out against same-sex marriage repeatedly, did so again after Sunday Mass.
“We don’t believe that marriage can be changed and radically altered to accommodate a particular lifestyle,” he said.
Not all churches oppose the legislation. Rev. Jacqueline Lewis of Middle Collegiate Church expressed her joy after the signing.
“We feel very happy,” she said.
With gay marriage will inevitably come gay divorce, believes Alton Abramowitz, vice president of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers.
“At the outset, I think we’re going to receive more prenuptial agreement business,” says Abramowitz. “Particularly here in the city, where the financial services industry is so strong and people often make seven-figure incomes.”
“A lot of same-sex couples have been together for many years and have accumulated significant wealth,” he says.
New York does not require the couple live in the state to be married there.
Matrimonial lawyer Stephen Silberfein says that could complicate divorce.
“If they go back to their home state that doesn’t recognize same gender marriage, they may have to come back to New York to litigate,” he says.
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Broadly speaking, gay couples will be subject to the same rules as heterosexual couples, but custodial rights may differ.
“Including if adoptions were performed, for example, in states that don’t recognize the partner as a parent,” says Silberfein.
There may be a rush to the altar, but both lawyers don’t expect to see a spike in divorce for at least another decade.
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It is estimated between license fees, banquets, parties and rehearsal dinners, same sex marriage could add as much as $140 million to the city’s economy.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg says the city has a month to get ready for what he assumes will be an influx of gay marriages once the new law takes effect.
“We’d love to have you come here, stay in a hotel, buy flowers, clothes, meals, whatever. It’s good for the economy,” said Bloomberg in remarks at Gracie Mansion on Monday.
Noting there are six states and the District of Columbia that already perform gay marriages the mayor said he didn’t know if everybody will rush to New York after the first day.
“We have thirty days to get ready and there’s a handful of people who probably want to be on the first day,” said Bloomberg. “Will there be lines the first day, yes, get ready for it. That’s a lot better than no lines.”
He said Coucil Speaker Christine Quinn was thinking of marrying in the fall or spring.
New York City is reportedly planning an “I Do” campaign to woo gay weddings. The mayor is expected to unveil it sometime this week.
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Performing gay weddings will have something of a deja vu quality for New Paltz mayor Jason West.
In 2004, he made national headlines by marrying gay couples.
He likes to think that helped generate some momentum.
“At least locally, the weddings in New Paltz seemed to have provoked people to get organized,” he says.
That led the district attorney to arrest him on 24 misdemeanors.
“Yeah, I faced criminal charges but, how likely really was it that someone was going to put me in jail for 24 years for helping people get married?” West tells WCBS 880 reporter Peter Haskell.
The charges were eventually dropped.
Now west is thrilled at the prospect of performing same-sex ceremonies that are backed by law.
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