ALBANY, N.Y. – New York will usher in legal gay marriage today with an expected wedding boom as hundreds of people seize the moment.

Couples planning to wed in the first week under the new law talked not only about blissful futures, but also about hard-fought victories, political statements and a sense that New York is catching up with what has been in their hearts for a long time.

“We’ve been marginalized by state law for so long and to finally be invited into the party makes me well up and makes me want to cry every time I think about it,” said Mark Lynch, who will marry his partner of 29 years Monday in a group ceremony at Niagara Falls. “We’re trying to make this a great celebration.”

New York became the sixth and largest state to sanction same-sex marriage at 12:01 a.m. today. More than a half-dozen couples were planning to exchange vows in the moments after midnight and over a thousand more could wed within several days. Clerks’ offices in New York City and a dozen other cities will open today specifically to handle the crush of couples.

The Legislature’s recent decision to legalize gay marriage was eyed keenly by advocates and opponents alike to see if it would reinvigorate momentum in the national push for gay marriage. Those who objected, mostly on religious grounds, vowed to continue to fight and have promised lawsuits in New York.

Tiffany Peckosh and Meredith Soffrin will make official a romance that began in 2007 when Peckosh browsed through a friend’s MySpace page and spotted a picture of a dark-haired girl with a great smile.

Peckosh, 31, is from Dubuque, Iowa, and Soffrin is a native of Washington, D.C. They moved in together in 2008 in Brooklyn — and New York City is where they want to wed.

“This is where we take our walks, this is where we discovered each other,” said Soffrin, a social worker. “So this is where we wanted to do it.”

Judges will be posted in New York City clerks’ offices today to officiate and to consider waiver requests to the state’s mandatory 24-hour wait between issuing a license and a ceremony. Couples without a waiver cannot wed until Monday or Tuesday, depending on whether their local clerk issues licenses today.