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Same-sex couples need some luck if they want to marry Sunday

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gay marriage Photo Credit: Getty Images

Same-sex couples yearning to be among the first in the city to get hitched will need the blessing of Lady Luck.

City officials on Tuesday announced a lottery drawing for couples to get married on Sunday – the first day they can legally tie the knot after Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a historic marriage equality bill last month.

“We are going to make history on Sunday, with the eyes of the nation once again turning to New York City,” said Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

The city will randomly select 764 couples to wed at city clerk’s offices throughout the five boroughs. They have until noon Thursday to apply at or by calling the city’s 311 hotline.

Kawane Harris and Jeanette Coleman, of midtown, applied for the lottery Tuesday and already have a minister lined up if they’re approved to legally get married Sunday.

“It’d be kind of upsetting if we weren’t chosen,” said Harris, 35, who’s been with Coleman since 2009 and had a church ceremony last August. “But in the eyes of God, we’re already married.”

Heterosexual couples also can register for Sunday. The city will contact the winners by noon Friday.

Bloomberg said at a news conference that a lottery would help people avoid the frustration of long lines Sunday – expected to shatter previous records for the most legal marriages performed in the city in a single day.

“We do not anticipate … people camping in the streets,” Bloomberg said. “It’s not buying an iPad 2.”

“It’s way better,” added Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who said the special day shouldn’t feel like “a trip to motor vehicles.”

Offices will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and couples will have everything done on site: They’ll receive marriage licenses (for a fee of $35), obtain a waiver from a judge to skip the 24-hour waiting period and then formally say, “I do.” A ceremony costs $25.

So far, more than 2,600 couples have applied for marriage licenses since July 5 – and more than half of those applications are from same-sex couples, according to the city.

The use of a lottery system appears an acceptable compromise, said Jake Goodman, of advocacy group Queer Rising, although picking winners just two days before Sunday would seem “frustrating for already nervous couples.”

For those not selected, there’s a consolation prize: a certificate recognizing they tried to get married on Sunday. City clerk’s offices also will remain open for two hours longer each day next week to meet the demand.


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