With just days to go before the Marriage Equality Act takes effect on July 24, many same-sex couples in New York are gearing up for the big day. But marriage isn’t just a wedding celebration, it involves lots of paperwork, government clerks and even insurance companies.
Here’s what you need to know to tie the knot:
I want to wed on July 24, 2011. How do I do it?
While many same-sex couples have waited a very long time for this day, some will have to wait a little longer. Due to thousands of marriage requests on July 24, a lottery system has been administered that guarantees just 764 marriage slots between the five boroughs. Names were drawn at random on July 20 from all registered couples.
Chosen or not, couples can begin the marriage process by submitting an online application for a marriage license to the City Clerk’s office using City Clerk Online, beginning July 24. The application is to be completed in person at the City Clerk’s office in your local borough. The Marriage License fee is $35, payable by credit card.
Do I need to bring anything beside my Visa?
Yes, both partners must also bring a valid, government-issued form of identification. This includes a driver’s license or a passport. Once issued a marriage license, you have 60 days to wed.
Now that we have our marriage license, when can we have the ceremony?
New York State law requires couples to wait at least 24 hours before holding their marriage ceremony. However, the waiting period can be waived by a New York State judge, in which case couples can wed minutes after obtaining their license. Civil ceremonies can be performed at the courthouse for an additional $25 fee. Remember to bring at least one adult witness!
Valid marriage officiants include registered clergy members, New York State judges, city clerks and past and present mayors. Click here for a complete list of eligibility.
Will I enjoy all the same benefits as my married straight friends?
Yes, the Marriage Equality Act delivers more than 1,000 previously-denied rights and benefits to same-sex couples. This includes health care, property and inheritance rights. Couples will also have the freedom to legally take a partner’s name.
I live in Pennsylvania. Can I still get married in New York?
Couples residing outside of New York are welcome to wed in the Empire State, and the process to do so is the same.
However, a legal same-sex marriage may not be recognized outside New York. Currently, only Connecticut, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington, D.C. recognize same-sex marriage.