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Hundreds of same-sex couples win New York marriage lottery

By Steve Kastenbaum, CNN, and journalist Craig Johnson
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Gay marriage lottery winners to wed
  • Marcos Chaljub and Freddy Zambrano will wed Sunday
  • David Hind and Craig Francisco are also lottery winners
  • 764 couples win slots to get marriage licenses or ceremonies on Sunday

(CNN) -- Marcos Chaljub of New York got a life-changing e-mail on Friday.

He had to share it.

"I remember getting home and I checked my e-mail," he told CNN on Saturday. "I had an e-mail from the county clerk's office."

Never mind that his partner of five years, Freddy Zambrano, was busy taking a shower.

"I just ran in there and I said, "We got it! We're in! We're in the lottery! We're getting married on Sunday!' " Chaljub said. "We started crying. We started laughing, celebrating, really good moment."

It's a really good weekend for hundreds of same-sex couples, who heard the news Friday that they made the cut in the marriage lottery that New York state instituted for the day that the state's Marriage Equality Act takes effect.

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The New York city clerk's office has been flooded with more than 2,600 requests for marriage licenses since the wording on the online application was changed from "Groom and Bride" to "Spouse A and Spouse B." The office could handle less than a third of those requests -- gay or straight -- on Sunday, according to a press statement the city released earlier in the week. The lottery was set up to allocate 764 slots for couples who want to obtain marriage licenses and/or be married at city clerk's offices on Sunday.

If all 764 weddings actually take place on Sunday, it will set a one-day record for the city.

"We are going to make history on Sunday, with the eyes of the nation once again turning to New York City," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in the statement.

"We couldn't think of a better time to do it at the most historical moment, for New York, for that matter, and possibly the world," Zambrano said.

Also among them will be David Hind and Craig Francisco. The two met 12 years ago at The Duplex, a popular cabaret in New York's Greenwich Village.

"We filled the application out the first day we could," Francisco said.

Craig Francisco (left) and David Hind will tie the knot Sunday in New York.
Craig Francisco (left) and David Hind will tie the knot Sunday in New York.

"We have a very dear friend who is officiating for us," Hind said. "He's going to bring the religious aspect to our ceremony on Sunday. He's going to be there bringing the spirituality of what we are doing and what we've been over the last 12 years and kind of formalizing that for us."

The gay couple is looking forward to the same benefits and protections as heterosexual married couples.

The two men said not much will change in their relationship after they are married. In addition to filing a joint tax return, Hind said, "as of Sunday night I'll be introducing Craig as my husband -- which is a first."

Francisco added, "And we can change our Facebook statuses to married."

Those who weren't chosen in the lottery for Sunday "should plan on visiting a Clerk's office location at a future date," the city said.