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Countdown to Midnight: New York same-sex couples prepare to say ‘I Do’

Updated: Additional coverage here.

Hundreds of gay and lesbian couples in New York will say “I Do” on Sunday, as the state’s Marriage Equality Act takes effect in just one hour.

© Mykle Brossette, Mykelle Nicole Photography

The first marriages are scheduled to take place just after midnight in Niagara Falls, where officials planned to illuminate the famous cascade in the colors of a rainbow, and in Albany, where an eager mayor planned to marry eight gay couples.

In New York City, 823 couples signed up in advance to get marriage licenses on Sunday, and many of those couples were expected to marry minutes later in city clerk’s offices across the five boroughs.

Officials from more than a dozen cities and towns from Buffalo to Brookhaven said they would open their offices to issue marriage licenses on Sunday, and more than 100 judges across the state have volunteered to officiate at the couples’ weddings on the spot.

On Sunday, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg himself will officiate a same-sex ceremony at Gracie Mansion between two city officials, Consumer Aaffairs Commissioner Jonathan Mintz, and his partner of 14 years, Chief Policy Adviser John Feinblatt.

“New York really reflects and signifies that the center of gravity on this question has shifted,” said Evan Wolfson, the founder and president of Freedom to Marry, which advocates for same-sex marriage. “It gives us tremendous momentum for continuing the journey the country has been on toward fairness.”

The Marriage Equality Act was passed in the state Senate on Friday evening, June 24, and signed into law by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo at 11:55 p.m. ET, less than 2 hours after the vote. New York becomes the sixth and largest state to sanction same-sex marriage, which takes effect at 12:01 a.m. Sunday.

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