On Sunday, hundreds of same-sex couples officially married in New York as the state’s Marriage Equality Act went into effect. Same-sex couples in New York can now enjoy the rights, benefits and protections attached to marriage, such as the right to visit a partner in the hospital and the right to make decisions about the partner’s medical care that are currently limited to married couples of the opposite sex.
The New York City clerk’s office has received over 2,600 requests from same-sex couples for marriage licenses since the language on the application changed from “Groom and Bride” to “Spouse A and Spouse B.” Given the large number of marriage applications, the New York City clerk’s office established a lottery system, which selected 764 couples to be married on Sunday.
In late June, the New York Senate passed the Marriage Equality Act by a vote of 33 to 29, with four Republicans joining all but one Democrat in supporting the measure. Governor Cuomo signed the bill into law that evening. The bill passed the state Assembly by an 80-63 vote earlier in June.
New York is the sixth and largest state to legalize gay marriage, following Iowa, Connecticut, Vermont, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire, and the District of Columbia.