Thursday marks the first day marriage license applications are available to same-sex couples in Minnesota for couples who want to get their paperwork ready in advance in Hennepin, Ramsey and Washington counties.
As of 6 a.m., couples were already lining up as the doors opened at the Hennepin County Government Center in Minneapolis. County officials brought in extra staff in anticipation of heavy traffic, and couples started filling out applications at 7:30 a.m.
"Today means that we are equal citizens in the state of Minnesota," applicant Al Giraud said as he stood with his partner, Jeff Isaacson, at the Hennepin County Government Center. "We get to affirm our relationship and protections of the law from Minnesota for couples. So, very important day."
Hennepin County typically issues over 7,000 marriage licenses a year, but only time will tell what sort of demand will accompany the new law throughout the state. On Thursday, Hennepin County received 38 marriage applications from same-sex couples.
State law dictates that couples must wait five days after applying for a marriage license to pick up their forms, so same-sex couples must fill out an application by July 26 to be ready for Aug. 1, which is when the Freedom to Marry Act goes into effect and couples can officially say "I do."
In Hennepin County, couples who apply early can pick up their license, which will automatically be post-dated to be effective Aug. 1. In Ramsey County, couples can retrieve their licenses on Aug. 1 or opt to have them mailed out on that date.
The price tag for a marriage license is $115, but if a couple goes through premarital counseling, it's only $40. Proof of counseling must be presented at the time of application.
A marriage license purchased in Minnesota only allows you to be married in Minnesota and an application must be filed at least five days before the wedding date. The license will be valid for six months. Applicants must be at least 18; however, they do not need to be a Minnesota resident to apply for a license.
Minnesota's recently-adopted marriage equality law changes the existing state statute by substituting the word "civil marriage" for the word "marriage" and changes eligible participants from "a man and a woman" to "two persons."
The new Hennepin County marriage license application replaces "bride" and "groom" with "first applicant" and "second applicant" to accommodate same-sex couples.
WHAT TO BRING
1. License application
2. Both individuals to be married -- or, if one can't come in, a supplemental form for the party not appearing. Their signature must be notarized.
3. Identification (driver's license or state ID)
4. If one or both applicants has a felony conviction, you must provide proof of service papers.
5. If an applicant is widowed or divorced, they must provide the date of death or copy of divorce decree.
DOWNLOAD AN APPLICATION
Washington County: http://www.co.washington.mn.us/DocumentCenter/View/843