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Borough Hall Buzzes on the First Day of Legal Same-Sex Marriage

Borough Hall opened up shop on Sunday for the first day the new same-sex marriage law is in effect.

It was barely light outside on Sunday, and already a handful of couples had begun to congregate outside of Borough Hall, hoping to tie the knot as soon as possible on the first day that same-sex marriage is officially legal in New York State.

The Marriage Bureau was not scheduled to open until 8:30 a.m., but after waiting years or even decades to marry the ones they love, some couples hoped to be first in line to take advantage of the new law after New York passed the Marriage Equality Act last month, extending marriage rights to LGBT couples.

Bobby Amagna, 65, and Mike Surey, 63, arrived at the borough Marriage Bureau at 5:30 a.m. on Sunday morning, hoping to be one of the first couples to get hitched.

After 18 years of coupledom, the Winsor Terrace residents said they'd waited long enough. They were dressed for matrimony in matching white linen pants and shirts, their heads topped by two straw hats.

"We’ve been waiting for so long and we're not going to wait any longer," said Amagna. "We’re going to live forever together."

Today primarily couples who won a will be married at the city's five Marriage Bureaus—including one across the street from Borough Hall—to make history as .

The city decided to implement the lottery due to a record breaking number of couples registering to marry. Many couples held out for New York, hoping to marry in their homestate rather than heading to one of the five other states that allow same-sex marriage.

"We became engaged two years ago, and wanted to hold out for New York!" said Maggie Kawinski and Hollis Pfitsch, Prospect Heights residents who were waiting at Borough Hall to get hitched. "We're excited!"

A total of 823 couples were selected to have a guarantee that their ceremonies will be performed at one of the five City Clerk offices located in each borough.

Borough President Marty Markowitz will be present, as will a judge, minister and rabbi to preside over the first legal gay marriages in Brooklyn. 

The lottery closed Thursday, but all couples with valid marriage licenses and a waiver of the state-required 24 hour waiting period will be welcomed by Markowitz's office to come tie the knot.

As the clock struck 8:30 a.m., some of those in line grew impatient waiting for the day's ceremonies to begin.

Park Slope residents Barbara Pilgrim, 83, Geraldine Whigsett, 76, were the first in line. The couple has been dating for 48 years, after they first met working at the now defunct Youth in Action program in Bed-Stuy. They've been waiting to get married for nearly as long.

At 8:30 a.m., Whitsett banged on the door, calling for the building to open its doors and let the borough's first same-sex marriages begin.

"I’ve been waiting for too long," she said.

Georgia Kral contributed reporting.

Editor's Note: This story was updated with additional information at 9:30 a.m.

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