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Cali Owings, Published July 26 2013

At least 17 same-sex couples to be married during mass Clay County civil ceremony Thursday

MOORHEAD – So far, 17 same-sex couples will tie the knot during a mass civil marriage ceremony at the Clay County Courthouse at midnight on Thursday – the first day same-sex marriage is legal in Minnesota.

Couples seeking to be married on Thursday had until 4 p.m. Friday to apply for a license because there’s a five-day waiting period in Minnesota before marriage licenses become valid.

Altogether, 22 same-sex couples have applied for Minnesota marriage licenses in Clay County, according to the recorder’s office. Not all couples were signed up for the midnight ceremony.

Clay County started accepting same-sex marriage license applications on July 17. The new licenses eliminate any gendered wording and simply state “applicant” instead of “bride” and “groom.”

Hennepin, Ramsey and Washington counties were the first to begin accepting applications on June 6. Some counties will not accept applications in advance of the law change going into effect.

A marriage license issued by any county is valid anywhere within the state of Minnesota for six months.

Judges Lisa Borgen and Michelle Lawson will preside over the Clay County midnight ceremony, the details of which are yet to be determined based on the final count of participants.

Couples will be married just minutes after midnight on Aug. 1. The Clay County Courthouse will be open from 11:30 p.m. Wednesday until 1 a.m. Thursday for the ceremony.

There’s still time for other couples to be added to the mass civil marriage ceremony Thursday. Couples with a marriage license can be added to the list up until 4:30 p.m. Monday by calling Clay County Court Administration at (218) 299-5065.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Cali Owings at (701) 241-5599