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Line Up and Be Counted

Same-sex couples are going to start lining up at Albany City Hall to request marriage licenses tomorrow (April 30) at 11 AM, in what will be the first such lineup at a local city hall.

Couples with proper identification can apply for licenses even though the city will not accept them. If couples are not yet registered as domestic partners in the city, organizers are encouraging that they register, though they admit it’s something of a consolation prize compared to a marriage license.

“I don’t think we can ask the mayor in good faith or the Common Council to go ahead and grant pirate licenses,” said organizer Jim Larson, who noted that it’s important to stand up and ask for equality. He added that they would like to see Albany join other municipalities in New York that have pledged to recognize same-sex couples married elsewhere, like Canada or Massachusetts.

Richard Conti, the president pro tempore of the Albany Common Council, said he believes New York’s municipalities should recognize marriages performed out of state, as the state attorney general opined earlier this year. He thinks the city needs to be considering the issue. “I’ve asked for our own legal opinion from our corporation counsel office, and I’m waiting for something on that, that I hope will form the basis of some positive decision making,” he said.

The people behind the “get in line” event started organizing local direct actions in true grass-roots fashion, because they felt no one else was doing anything about marriage equality here. They formed a Yahoo! Group online and are holding fund-raisers, including one at the Lark Street restaurant DeJohn’s tomorrow (Friday) to benefit the Human Rights Campaign, a national gay-rights organization.

For now, the big thing is actually lining up at City Hall. “It would be great if a lot of people showed up,” said organizer Rex DeVoe.

Organizers want to be clear that this is not just a gay issue, and they encourage anyone to show up or line up in support of marriage equality. “Go with your frat brother or go with the girl in the office,” Larson urged. “You may not be a same-sex couple, but present yourself.”

—Ashley Hahn

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