Hundreds of gay, lesbian couples say “I do” in New York (Lead)

July 25th, 2011 - 1:40 pm ICT by IANS  

New York, July 25 (IANS/EFE) On the first day of the law authorising same-sex marriages in New York, hundreds of gay and lesbian couples officially said “I do” here Sunday.

Amid numerous scenes of happiness, the different city clerk offices in New York City’s five boroughs married 823 couples, both heterosexual and homosexual.

Among those getting married were Rev. Carmen Hernandez - who is of Puerto Rican origin - and Doris De Armas at a ceremony in The Bronx.

Hernandez, one of the best known Hispanic activists for her defense of the rights of the city’s gay and lesbian community, and De Armas were married by Judge Yetta Kurland, another well-known city leader in the defense of social rights.

In a press release, Kurland said that it had been “an honour” to marry Hernandez and De Armas before the entire community in The Bronx.

Phyllis Siegal and Connie Kopelow, both dressed in blue shirts and having been a couple for 23 years, were the first to tie the knot in Manhattan and after the ceremony they said they felt “an indescribable happiness”.

When it became known that the city clerk’s offices in New York City would be open Sunday to perform these ceremonies, the mayor’s office received 2,661 marriage requests via the Internet, but in the face of the impossibility of holding all those weddings, a public lottery was held to select those couples who would be able to marry first.

The fortunate ones were the 823 couples - both gay and heterosexual - who were selected in the lottery, but it is not known how many of those were same-sex couples.

The road that brought the state and its residents to this point was marked by a lengthy struggle in the state legislature until the law was approved and also by a costly support campaign by human rights and civil liberties defense organizations.

Since June 24, New York and five other states - Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut and Iowa - plus Washington, D.C. have authorized same-sex marriage.

–IANS/EFE
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