By JOSEPH SPECTOR
Albany Bureau Chief
ALBANY -- About 2,400 same-sex couples were married outside New York City since the state's same-sex marriage law took effect in July, about 7 percent of the total number of weddings, the state Health Department said Wednesday.
See a list of marriage counts in New York in 2011 and 2012
The numbers were the first to quantify the impact of the same-sex marriage law since it took effect July 24, but the statistics leave some uncertainty.
The law created a new marriage license that let couples choose whether they are male/female, male/male, female/female or unspecified. Twenty percent of couples, or 6,839 of the licenses, were listed as "unspecified."
There were also no statistics available Wednesday from New York City, which has 8 million of the state's 19 million people.
Same-sex marriage supporters and foes offered different opinions of the statistics.
The state Health Department compiled marriage licenses from town clerks, who send in the licenses to the state. The health department said there were 34,176 marriage licenses issued from July 24 through early February, and 73 percent, or 24,961, were listed as heterosexual couples.
There were nearly 1,400 lesbian couples and 1,000 male gay couples who were wed.
Ross Levi, executive director of the Empire State Pride Agenda, said allowing same-sex couples to wed isn't about numbers. New York became the sixth state in the nation to legalize same-sex marriage when it passed the Legislature on June 24.
"To me, that's not at all what it's about," Levi said of the statistics. "It comes back to the personal meaning that this has had both for the couples getting married and for those that care about them."
Jason McGuire, executive director of the conservative New Yorkers For Constitutional Freedoms, said the numbers showed a lack of enthusiasm for same-sex marriage.
"About the only area that gay nuptials has benefited is campaign accounts," he said in a statement, referring to the contributions received by lawmakers who supported the legislation.
A report last May from the Senate Independent Democratic Conference estimated that the legalization of same-sex marriage in New York would generate $391 million in increased economic activity over three years. The conference estimated that 21,309 gay and lesbian couples from New York would marry and 3,308 couples from nearby states.
It also estimated that 41,907 non-New York gay and lesbian couples who would have "destination weddings" in New York.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo made legalizing same-sex marriage a key goal of his first year in office in 2011, and it was passed with the help of four Senate Republicans on the last day of the legislative session last year.