DOWNTOWN — Overjoyed same-sex couples from around the New York area and beyond descended on the City Clerk's office to get married Wednesday after the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act.
The historic decision unlocked hundreds of federal benefits for same-sex couples, inspiring dozens to tie the knot in Lower Manhattan.
Anthony Newarski, 51, and Rick Goeden, 48, drove for two hours from Asbury Park, N.J. — where gay marriage is not legal — to be the first same-sex couple married after the decision.
The pair found out about the decision while waiting in line to get into the building.
"I found out on Facebook — DOMA's dead," Goeden said. "We got fed up waiting for New Jersey."
While the ruling will give couples like Newarski and Goeden federal benefits, they will not receive state benefits if their home state does not recognize same-sex marriages.
Newarski and Goeden were married at 11 a.m., roughly an hour after the Supreme Court's decision.
The ceremony was witnessed by David Zambelli and Augustus Tawyea, both 72, who were married immediately afterward.
The pair from Long Beach Island, N.J. had been together for 34 years and decided Wednesday would be the perfect day to get married.
"All my life, I assumed I would never marry," Zambelli said. "The gay movement has advanced so rapidly."
"It's a historic day," Tawyea added.
The day's significance — which also drew jubilant crowds to The Stonewall Inn in the West Village — convinced Bill Parker, 51, and Luciano Melo, 42, to marry.
The pair had been together for four years, but were afraid to marry because Melo is an immigrant from Brazil. With the Supreme Court decision, they now plan to apply for a green card for Melo.
"It will stabilize our relationship," Parker said. "The last four years, we've only been OK until his visa is up, and we couldn't travel."
The clerk's office could not immediately provide data on the number of marriages after the decision.
Yadira Arenas, 24, and Alma Vazquez, 26, flew to New York from central Florida to get married and were thrilled to hear about the Supreme Court's decision.
"We have the same rights as everyone else now," Arenas said.
The couple said they hoped the decision would help inspire young gay people to find love.
"It is worth it when you have somebody," Arenas said. "Love, being loved is amazing."