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Peekskill Clergy, Officials Mull Same-Sex Marriage Impact

PEEKSKILL – On Sunday, New York became the sixth state to legalize same-sex marriages, but the impact of that legislation on the City of Peekskill is yet to be seen. As of Monday, same-sex couples have been able to apply for a marriage license at Peekskill City Hall in the clerk’s office during normal office hours.

“We have gotten a couple of calls,” said Peekskill City Clerk Pamela Beach.

Like any other marriage license, the cost is $40 and a birth certificate and drivers license is required for both applicants, she said. The concept of gay marriage has left state residents divided and most churches do not recognize such marriages. However, Bishop Michael Champion of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church in Buchanan and president of the Peekskill Area Pastors Association said that the right to marry is a religious freedom all Americans should have.

“I certainly think it’s a matter of civil rights, and the more equality we have amongst people in this country the better,” Champion said. While the state has legalized gay marriage, Champion pointed out churches in the state are not required to recognize or perform them. “I do realize there are some faith leaders that may not agree with performing same-sex unions, however they are not obliged to do so,” Champion said.

Another potential impact of the legalization of gay marriage on the city is on its economy. City businesses such as caterers, hairdressers, bakeries and florists could see a potential boost in the number of wedding they serve. La Villetta II manager Angello Alessanero said the extra business would be welcome.

“The business we have isn’t [seeing] much business” Alessanero said. “It’s slow right now with the heat and the economy, so every little thing helps.”

Luis Guzman has had his hairdressing studio L.A. Monroe in Peekskill for 21 years. He is still unsure of how much additional business same-sex marriage will bring.

“We’re glad - this law is a good thing for a lot of people,” Guzman said. “How it will affect my business, I don’t know.” Guzman said he saw no signs of any bump in business yet but said the biggest wedding season had already passed. He said he may see a boost next spring.

“When people get married, whether they are straight or gay, they will have to have a celebration and sometimes that calls for people to assist in having their hair and makeup done,” Guzman said. “But right now, I haven’t seen anything.”

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