Starting Thursday, gay and lesbian couples will be able to submit early applications for marriage licenses in several Minnesota counties.
Hennepin, Ramsey and Washington counties are taking applications early, although the state's same-sex marriage law does not take effect until Aug. 1.
The marriage license office in Hennepin County opens at 7:30 a.m. Thursday. Couples applying there will receive a post-dated marriage license the same day, said Eric Jensen of Project 515, a group that pushed for the law.
"You can go in, submit your application," he said. "And assuming everything is correct, then you'll be able to walk out with your license, which won't be valid for same-sex couples until Aug. 1."
Minnesota has a five-day waiting period for all marriage licenses. Counties that are taking early applications will do so until July 26, Jensen said.
Instead of sections for bride and groom, Minnesota marriage licenses now read "first applicant" and "second applicant."
It's a big day for many gay couples, said DFL State Sen. Scott Dibble, one of the authors of the law.
"It seems rather routine, stepping up to a counter and filling out a form, kind of a bureaucratic process," Dibble said. But it is another step, a milestone in full citizenship."
MORE MARRIAGE VOTE COVERAGE
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• Story: In the rotunda, issue still divisive
• Story: Rift remains in southeast Minnesota
• Live blog: Recap of Senate vote
• Live blog: Recap of House vote
• Photos: From the Minnesota Senate
• Photos: From the Minnesota House
• Maps: Same-sex marriage votes compared
• Interactive: Deep roots of the marriage debate
• Special report: How the amendment was defeated