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Now that same-sex marriage has been legalized in New York state, you're probably wondering how to get married. Here are some frequently asked questions and the answers:

When does marriage equality go into effect in New York?
Same-sex couples began having legally recognized marriage ceremonies on July 25, 2011. The law went into effect on July 24, 2011.

gay-pride-new-york-empire-stateDo I have to live in New York to get married there?
No, anyone can apply for a marriage license in New York State. There is no residency requirement.

Where can I apply for a marriage license?
You can apply at any city or town clerk's office in the state of New York. Both partners must be present. Couples can apply online through the City of New York as early as July 5. Couples who apply in person can apply beginning July 24. Many clerks offices are opening on Sunday for the special occasion.

Is a blood test required?
No.

Is there a waiting period to get the marriage license?
There is not a waiting period to get the license; you receive it right away.  

How soon after applying for a license can I get legally married?
24 hours or more.

Are there witnesses required in order to get legally married?
One witness (of any age) is required.

How much is the marriage license application fee?
Outside of New York City, the fee is $40. In NYC, the fee is $35.

How long is the marriage license valid for?
60 days

Can I apply online for a marriage license?
Yes, you can, in New York City, but both partners must still go in person to pick up the marriage license.

What paperwork is required when I apply for my marriage license?
Two things: A driver's license OR a passport OR a work ID with photo OR an immigration record. 

Who can officiate the marriage ceremony?
The mayor of a city or village; the former mayor, city clerk, or deputy city clerk of a city with 1 million+ residents; a marriage officer appointed by the town or village board; a justice or judge; a village, town or county justice; a member of the clergy authorized to perform marriage ceremonies.

If I don't live in New York, will my marriage be recognized by my home state?
It depends on where you live, but in most cases, probably not. It will be recognized in California, Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington State and Washington, D.C.

Is my New York gay marriage recognized by the U.S. federal government?
Yes, it is!

If I get legally married in New York, will I still need special legal paperwork to protect my family?
Yes, if you plan to travel with your partner beyond New York state, it will be necessary for you to hire an attorney to draw up paperwork to protect your family in case something happens in a state where your marriage is not recognized. You will need a Health Care Proxy, a Durable Power of Attorney and a will or trust.

How do I change my name?
You'll be asked your new last name on the marriage application. Once you receive your official copy of your marriage license, you can use that document to change your name on social security card, driver's license etc, if you live in the state of New York. If you live out of state, and in a state where your marriage is not legally recognized, it's much harder and will, in most cases, require a judge's order.


Bernadette Coveney Smith is the founder and owner of 14 Stories, a gay-owned wedding planning company. Learn more about her and her services in our Local Resources marketplace of gay-friendly wedding vendors who service New York.

Photos: Coveney Smith, courtesy of Bernadette Coveney Smith; Empire State Building by Creative Commons

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