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Long Island

After Sunday rush, fewer same-sex licenses

Robin Weinrib holds Lauren Ernst's hand as they

Robin Weinrib holds Lauren Ernst's hand as they wait to marry at the North Hempstead Town Clerk's office. (July 24, 2011) Photo Credit: Charles Eckert

Just a few dozen same-sex couples appeared at town clerks' offices across Long Island Monday -- a small but celebratory turnout on the first business day under New York's new Marriage Equality Act.

While the law legalizing same-sex marriages took effect on Sunday, Monday was the first opportunity for couples to apply for licenses in most of the island's towns and cities. North Hempstead and Brookhaven were the only two towns that opened their doors for marriage licenses and ceremonies on Sunday.

Southold, Riverhead and East Hampton towns issued three marriage licenses each to same-sex couples.

"It was just an ordinary day," said Riverhead Town Clerk Diane M. Wilhelm.

Outside the Huntington Town clerk's office, special ropes separated the line for marriage licenses from the line for other town business -- but nobody was in either one.

"We were prepared for a big rush," said Town Clerk Jo-Ann Raia.

Seven same-sex couples each received licenses in Hempstead and in Huntington Monday. Jill Stranburg, 61, and Carol Todaro, 55, of Huntington, walked into the clerk's office carrying a rainbow-colored sign thanking Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.

"To have come to the point where we're at today is beyond anything I thought could happen in my lifetime," Todaro said, after sipping from Champagne flutes Stranburg's brother brought along for the occasion. The women, who have been together for 14 years, plan to get married in September.

Brookhaven and Shelter Island towns recorded just one application each. The town of Oyster Bay, where Dale Turnipseed, 52, and Marcos Delgado, 59, of Muttontown, appeared at 9 a.m. to apply for their license, issued four. "I thought there'd be a lot more people," Turnipseed said.

The Town of Islip had eight gay and lesbian couples apply for marriage licenses. No same-sex couples sought a marriage license in Glen Cove Monday, but City Hall opened for a few hours after midnight Sunday for a wedding ceremony with a same-sex couple who had been married previously in Connecticut, which legalized same-sex marriages in 2008.

Southampton Town issued 19 marriage licenses Monday but Town Clerk Sundy A. Schermeyer said she could not immediately tell how many went to same-sex couples because her office did not keep a record. Numbers for Babylon and the city of Long Beach were not immediately available.

North Hempstead issued two marriage licenses to same-sex couples Monday, as did Smithtown.

John Garand, 57, and his partner, Rene Meyer, 61, were the first of two same-sex couples at Smithtown Town Hall in the morning. The Hauppauge couple said getting married was important, even though they were already registered domestic partners. "We came out of the closet in the '80s," Meyer said. "This is like coming out of the house."

With Patrick Whittle, Mitchell Freedman, Yamiche Alcindor, Paul LaRocco, Bill Bleyer and Carl MacGowan

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