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Somers Issues Its First Same-Sex Marriage License

SOMERS, N.Y. - Town clerks throughout Westchester have yet to experience a rush of applications for same-sex marriage licenses, but Somers' Kathy Pacella issued her first one earlier this week.

Usually people make an appointment to apply for a license. You need to bring a valid picture ID, an original birth certificate with a raised seal -- or a certified copy -- documents pertaining to all divorces from previous spouses and all death certificates in the case of widowhood. Both parties must be present.

Pacella’s first same-sex license, which was issued Monday, was for a drop-in couple. They had all the proper paperwork, so she gladly issued the license. “It was monumental!” she said, and told the couple, “Thank you, it was an honor.”

New York State conducted a webinar to train the town clerks in their new task. A webinar is a new compound word for a web conference, i.e., it is a web seminar. All of the rules for obtaining a license remain unchanged but some of the terminology is new.

Whereas old forms required the name of bride and groom, the new form asks for, “bride/groom/spouse” names. Applicants can underline the word of their choice or not. Old forms asked age and date of birth. New forms ask for age, date of birth and sex. Response to the sex category is optional.

Candidates used to be asked to name their father and mother and give their mother’s maiden name. Now they are asked to name, “father or parent (name or maiden name if applicable)” and, “mother or parent (name or maiden name if applicable).”

“These new answer categories may not seem very pertinent right now,” said Pacella, “but twenty years down the road they’ll be more relevant.”

Once a license has been issued, there is normally a 24-hour waiting period before a marriage can be performed. In extenuating circumstances the hiatus can be waived.

So far Pacella has had two other inquiries about same-sex marriage licenses, both asking about requirements. She is enjoying the new policy, she said. “History is being made.”

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