Gay couples have taken marriage vows for the first time in New York this past Sunday, as the legalisation of same-sex marriage officially came into force in the Empire State.
More than 800 couples are expected to have married after the first 24 hours, with many opting to marry at the very first opportunity, including Kitty Lambert, 54, and Cheryle Rudd, 53, who became among the first to tie the knot at Niagara Falls soon after midnight.
Gay marriage legislation was passed on 24 June after the state Senate voted 33 to 29 in favour of the measure, enabling New York to become the sixth and most populous state to allow the same-sex union. But the policy could not take effect for 30 days, meaning couples could apply for marriage licenses but not marry until Sunday.
Evan Wolfson, president of Freedom to Marry group told the New York Times: “New York really reflects and signifies that the centre of gravity on this question [same-sex marriage] has shifted.
“It gives us tremendous momentum for continuing the journey the country has been on toward fairness.”
Meanwhile, the Williams Institute gay think-tank has estimated that the decision to legalise gay marriage in the state will bring in $155 million (£95 million) by way of tourism to New York in the first year alone.
As reported by The Advocate, the organisation said in a statement: “The estimate is based on the experience of the five previous states that have extended marriage to same-sex couples and new Census 2010 data for New York released just last week.”