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Moorhead's Clay County Courthouse to hold midnight same-sex marriage ceremony Aug. 1

MOORHEAD, Minn. - Clay County is gearing up to allow same-sex couples to marry in civil ceremonies as soon as the law allowing gay marriages takes effect Aug. 1.

Clay County will start accepting applications for a civil marriage license by same-sex couples July 17, J. Bonnie Rehder, the county's recorder and vital record registrar announced today.

The civil marriage license will not become valid until Aug. 1 under Minnesota law. Early acceptance of applications will provide time for the five-day waiting period to enable couples to marry Aug. 1.

Also, the Clay County Courthouse will open from 11:30 p.m. on July 31 to 1 a.m. on Aug. 1 to allow couples who want to be among the first in Minnesota to be married under the new law.

Judges Lisa Borgen and Michelle Larson will preside at a group ceremony that will begin after midnight.

All couples with a valid Minnesota marriage license and acceptable photo identification are welcome to participate in the ceremony free of charge.

Those who wish to participate should call Clay County Court Administration at (218) 299-5065 before 4:30 p.m. on July 29 so all can be accommodated.

Cameras will be allowed in the courthouse, but no phones or video cameras will be permitted.