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PR- 260-11
July 19, 2011


Data Collected Since July 5th Shows Number of Couples Seeking to Marry on Sunday Could be Four Times More than the All-Time Single Day High in New York City

Lottery System Ensures Couples who Arrive on Sunday are not Denied Access

Number of Couples Married on Sunday will be Highest in City History

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn and City Clerk Michael McSweeney today announced that due to high demand for marriage services on Sunday, July 24, 2011 – the first day New York State’s recently passed marriage equality law takes effect – the City will conduct a public lottery for any couple wishing to marry on July 24th. The lottery will guarantee access to one of the City Clerk’s five offices for 764 couples – opposite sex or same sex – on July 24th. Couples wishing to marry on July 24th must register for the lottery by going to the City Clerk’s website at or by calling 311. The lottery will open for entries at noon on July 19th and will close to entries at noon on July 21st. There is no advantage to registering quickly for the lottery – all applicants who register in time will have an equal opportunity to be randomly selected. There will be a separate lottery for each of the City Clerk’s five borough offices and lottery applicants must specify one – and only one – office where they wish to marry. Winners of the lottery will be notified via e-mail or phone on Friday, July 22nd by noon. Couples who already have pre-registered for a marriage license must enter the lottery if they wish to marry on July 24th. All couples selected through the lottery will be guaranteed access to all services at their selected Clerk’s Office on Sunday. Couples selected in the lottery are encouraged to arrive in the morning and must arrive no later than 3:45 PM on Sunday. Couples who were not selected through the lottery process should plan on visiting a Clerk’s office location at a future date. The Mayor, Speaker and Clerk made the announcement in the Blue Room of City Hall.

“We are going to make history on Sunday, with the eyes of the nation once again turning to New York City,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “We’ve done our homework, and it’s clear that the number of couples who want to marry on Sunday is more than the City Clerk’s offices could possibly handle. And the last thing we want is for couples to wait on line for hours and hours, only to walk away upset on what was supposed to be the happiest day of their lives. The fairest way to determine who gets the chance to wed on Sunday and ensure everyone can properly plan for their own big day is through an even-handed lottery system. Nobody puts on big events like New York and we will be ready on Sunday for what will no doubt be an historic and unforgettable moment.”

“The City of New York will make history on July 24th and we will honor this day in the most meaningful and respectful way possible,” said Speaker Quinn. “This efficient and effective process for managing the first day of marriage equality in the five boroughs will maximize the excitement and dignity for all. I want to thank Mayor Bloomberg, City Clerk McSweeney, and everyone on their teams for working so hard to prepare for this momentous occasion. We wish everyone luck in this lottery, and more importantly we wish everyone a lucky, healthy, happy marriage.”

“In partnership with Mayor Bloomberg and Speaker Quinn, my office has spent the past few weeks preparing for this historic day in New York City,” said City Clerk McSweeney. “My colleagues and I are committed to making sure that all couples will be treated fairly and with dignity on this momentous occasion.”

In advance of July 24th, the City invited same sex couples to begin the marriage license application process online starting on July 5th.  This allowed the City to collect data to gauge the number of couples possibly interested in marrying during the first days of marriage equality.  

As of this morning, the City Clerk’s Office had received 2,661 online applications since July 5th, of which the Clerk has estimated that 1,728 are from same-sex couples. Data collected by the City showed that 54 percent of the online applicants planned to visit the Clerk’s Office on July 24th for their marriage license; and that 50 percent of the applicants planned to get married at the Clerk’s Office that day.

However, the data collected does not account for the significant number of applicants who typically arrive at a Clerk’s Office locations without pre-registering and apply using paper applications on the day they plan to receive their license. Nearly half of all couples seeking a marriage license are not pre-registered on a typical day.

The data indicated that every couple who was interested in getting their marriage license or married on July 24th could not be accommodated and an organized lottery system would prevent couples from potentially traveling to a New York City Clerk’s Office and being denied access to services.

The 764 couples expected to be married on July 24th will be the most on any single day in City history. The previous highs were 621 marriages on Valentine’s Day in 2003 and 610 marriages on August 8, 2008 (8/8/08). On both of those occasions, most couples who were married had already obtained their marriage licenses before arriving at the Clerk’s Offices and did not need a judge to waive the 24-hour marriage waiting period normally required under State law. On Sunday, officials will have to process potentially all three steps for each couple – the license issuance, the hearing for a judicial waiver and the marriage ceremony – while exceeding the previous record for most couples married in a single day by more than 20 percent.

Lottery participants will be required to enter the name of each spouse, contact number, email address, and the borough where they would like to marry on July 24th. The name used by applicants for the lottery must match the name used on the final marriage certificate – to prevent couples from giving or selling their spots to other couples. All couples selected in the lottery will be required to present official proof of identification to take advantage of a guaranteed spot at the Clerk’s office on Sunday, July 24th.

Lottery slots available by borough:

  • 400 Manhattan City Clerk’s Office
  • 112 Brooklyn City Clerk’s Office
  • 112 Queens City Clerk’s Office
  • 98 Bronx City Clerk’s Office
  • 42 Staten Island City Clerk’s Office

The numbers for the slots available are proportional to the number of marriages performed at the City Clerk’s offices on a normal day.

More than 60 judges from the New York State court system have volunteered to work on Sunday to review requests to waive the 24-hour marriage waiting period normally required under State law and to perform marriage ceremonies for eligible couples. Judges will be on hand in all five boroughs throughout the day.

Lottery winners will be able to get married at their designated Clerk’s office on Sunday July 24th between 8:30 AM and 4:30 PM. Couples must bring a valid, government-issued identification. The following types of identification are acceptable:

  • Driver’s license, non-driver identification card, or learner’s permit, with photograph, from any state or United States territory;
  • Active United States Military Identification Card;
  • Valid passport;
  • United States Certificate of Naturalization (less than ten years old);
  • United States Alien Registration Card; or
  • United States Employment Authorization Card.

In addition to proper identification, all couples will be required to have a witness with proper identification. The witness must be at least 18 years of age. The fee for a New York City Marriage License is $35, with an additional fee of $25 for a marriage ceremony.

Couples not selected in the public lottery will be able to receive marriage services any day following Sunday, July 24th at the Clerk’s Offices, which will be open for extended hours – 8:30 AM to 6:30 PM – from Monday, July 25th through Friday, July 29th. Couples are encouraged to begin the marriage license application process online by going to

On July 6th, Mayor Bloomberg, Speaker Quinn and City Clerk McSweeney announced New York City Clerk’s offices in all five boroughs would be open for a full day of business on Sunday, July 24th and fully prepared to implement New York State’s new Marriage Equality Law for all couples.


Stu Loeser / Marc LaVorgna / Mark Botnick   (212) 788-2958

Jamie McShane (Speaker)   (212) 788-7177


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