From the Wall Street Journal: Fearing demand for same-sex weddings will be too great for the City Clerk’s Office to handle this Sunday, city officials have announced a lottery for weddings on the first day that gay couples can legally wed in the state.
Officials said couples could be stuck waiting in long lines all day and, though the city has added extra clerks for Sunday, ultimately would not be able to get married because of the high volume.
The lottery will guarantee 764 couples — either opposite- or same-sex — access to marry at one of the City Clerk’s five offices Sunday.
The 764 couples to marry would be the largest number of marriages on any single day in city history.
As of Tuesday morning, the City Clerk’s Office had received 2,661 online applications since July 5th; the Clerk has estimated that 1,728 are from same-sex couples. Officials said the data collected by the city showed 54% of the online applicants planned to visit the clerk’s offices on Sunday in pursuit of a marriage license, and that 50% planned to marry that day.
According to the city, couples wishing to marry on Sunday may register for the lottery by going to the City Clerk’s website or by calling 311. The lottery will open for entries at noon on Tuesday and will close to entries at noon on Thursday.
The city will hold a separate lottery for each of the City Clerk’s five borough offices and lottery applicants must specify only one office where they wish to marry.
Winners of the lottery will be notified via e-mail or phone on Friday by noon. Officials urged couples who win a place in the lottery to arrive in the morning; couples must arrive no later than 3:45 p.m. Sunday.
“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 in a statement. “And 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.”
“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,” he added. “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.”
Couples who have not been selected in the lottery can get married later in the week.
Christine Quinn, the city’s first female and openly gay council speaker, said, “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.”