A picture of the Empire State Building bathed in rainbow lights is spreading like wildfire, thanks to the tonight?s passage of a bill legalizing same-sex marriage in New York. And while New York?s tallest building is rainbow colored at the moment, it wasn?t a last-minute change.
?Empire State Building? is now a trending topic on Twitter, thanks to thousands of tweets and retweets of the TwitPic, which depicts the tallest building in New York City in red, orange, purple, blue and green lights. Twitter search is on fire, and almost all of the discussion is about the same image.
The picture definitely wasn?t taken today, though. The exact same image has been around for at least a week and may in fact be older. In fact, it?s been cloudy all day in New York City and a layer of fog currently surrounds the Empire State Building, so there?s no way this picture was taken today.
The tower is, in fact, multicolored tonight, but not because of the gay marriage bill. It is actually Pride Week in New York City, and the Empire State Building was already scheduled to be lit up in rainbow lights for the weekend. The Empire State Building couldn?t have changed the lights in time, anyway: it typically takes several hours and a team of technicians to change all of the colors.
The state?s same-sex marriage law, which was signed by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo just before midnight on Friday, will go into effect in 30 days, meaning that gay couples can marry here beginning on July 24.
Gay couples from out of state will also be allowed to apply for wedding licenses and hold nuptials in New York.
Roughly 45,000 gay couples live in New York State, according to census estimates. No exact projection is available for how many will marry here, but officials are readying for thousands, especially in the first week.
?We are training our staff to be prepared for a very large number of people on the first day,? said Michael McSweeney, the New York City clerk, who oversees the marriage bureau. ?We are going to be part of history.?
The city has struck an agreement to increase the number of state judges available to perform same-sex marriages. Their workload could swell; John Feinblatt, a top adviser to the mayor, said judges could be bombarded by requests to circumvent the 24-hour waiting period.
Over the next 30 days, state officials must also rewrite the marriage license application form and distribute it to the hundreds of city and town clerks. In Oneonta, a college town of about 14,000 people in central New York, the city clerk, James R. Koury, was expecting a surge in applications, especially on the first day.
?I think we?re probably going to have people coming that day, and I?m looking forward to it,? Mr. Koury said.
The marriage bill was approved in the State Senate late Friday night by a vote of 33 to 29. Four Republicans joined all but one Democrat in supporting the measure after a lengthy and often-heated campaign.
The state?s political establishment is watching closely to see what kind of backlash those four Republicans will face. Already, the National Organization for Marriage, an advocacy group, is pledging to raise $2 million in a bid to defeat them.
New York is now the sixth and largest state to permit same-sex marriage, joining Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont, along with the District of Columbia.
After the passage of the legislation, the governor declared that New York had resumed its role as a ?beacon for social justice.? Mr. Cuomo, the prime mover of the bill, is expected to march in the city?s gay pride parade on Sunday, which will likely be an emotional and overflowing gathering. His past appearance at the parade was attacked by his Republican opponent, Carl P. Paladino, during the campaign for governor last year. Mr. Paladino criticized Mr. Cuomo for taking his teenage daughter to march alongside him.