2005-02-09

Deputy City Clerk Marries More Than 250,000 Couples

Of the 1.2 million people married in New York City in the past 20 years, more than a quarter of a million have been married in civil ceremonies performed by Queens Deputy City Clerk Dora Young. Young was the first woman ever appointed in Queens as Deputy City Clerk and celebrated her 20th anniversary on the job a few weeks ago.

Young says she loves her job. When she first took the job 20 years ago, after her husband, Evie Young, superintendent of mail for the U.S. Postal Service in Jamaica, died in 1981, she thought she would stay a year. “Here it is, 20 years later, and I’m still loving it,” she exclaimed.

The average civil marriage ceremony lasts three minutes, though some take a little longer. Some brides come dressed in bridal gowns with ring bearers and 20 family members, while others come dressed in jeans. On an average day, she marries 40 to 50 people, although last year she married 130 people in just one day. That number almost triples on Valentine’s Day. After Sept. 11, 2001, she noticed an immediate increase in the numbers of people wanting to tie the knot. That accelerated rate of marriage has continued since then. She has been marrying a large number of soldiers before they ship out.

Couples must bring a witness to the marriage. She recalls one couple who came with the bride’s mother as the witness. When she asked the routine question, “If there is anyone who could show just cause why this couple should not be legally married, please raise your hand,” the mother raised her hand. When she asked what her objection was, the mom responded, “He’s no good.” That couple was not permitted to complete the ceremony. Young advised the bride to bring another witness who would not object.

Young has played a major part in the Queens County Democratic Party as well. For the last 19 years, she has been vice chair of the Queens Democratic organization. For the last 30 years, together with partner District Leader Archie Spigner, she has been the District Leader of the 29th Assembly District and the Guy R. Brewer Democratic Club. She is the founder of the Guy R. Brewer Learning Center in Hollis. She has also been in the forefront of helping African-Americans break into the political system and run for and win elected office. She has worked for the election of the first black Assemblymember, state senator, judges and congressmen. She played a leading role in the campaigns of Jessie Jackson, Percy Sutton and David Dinkins.

Assemblymember William Scarborough will honor Young at his February 25 Winter White Fundraiser at Antun’s with a Political Leadership Award. Scarborough called her an outstanding political leader in Southeast Queens and New York City for more than 30 years. “As executive member and female leader along with Archie Spigner of the Guy R. Brewer Democratic Club, she has helped build that organization into one of the top five political clubs in the city. They have built an institution that perspective mayors, governors, even presidential candidates have recognized the need to visit,” Scarborough said.

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