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Same-sex couples to wed at Bethpage State Park

A sign on a motorcycle during the New

A sign on a motorcycle during the New York City gay pride march. (June 26, 2011) Photo Credit: Getty Images

Since last Wednesday, 43 couples have registered to be married July 26 in what is being touted as New York’s largest wedding ceremony at Bethpage State Park’s Carlyle on the Green, said David Kilmnick, chief executive of the Long Island Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Services Network.

Kilmnick’s nonprofit network hosts the website www.ligayweddings.org, where same-sex couples can register to be married in the free ceremony. Kilmnick and his associates will also consult with couples before July 26 to make sure they have all the paperwork in order.

He said that since the website officially launched at 4 p.m. last Wednesday, 513 people have signed up to attend as guests and the website had gotten 2,683 hits as of Tuesday.

“When we talk about what marriage means and why it’s so important for same sex couples, marriage brings 1,324 rights and benefits to our families,” Kilmnick said last week in a news conference at Carlyle on the Green, where he, state Sen. Malcolm Smith (D-St. Albans) and the venue’s owner Steve Carl announced the mass wedding.

“We now have access to those 1,324 rights and benefits, and it’s certainly about time.”

The LI GLBT Services Network will host a meeting at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at its Bay Shore office, 34 Park Ave., to educate same-sex couples on preparing for marriage — and, potentially, divorce.

“We’d like New York State to maintain its position as the Empire State, and that’s why we’re here today,” said Smith, who plans to officiate at the weddings ceremony on July 26. “We want the world to know that you are welcome to come to New York, and you are welcome to get married in New York.”

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