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Wedding bells in Washington: State readies for same-sex marriage license applications

In November the state of Washington became one of three states to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples by popular vote. On Wednesday, county clerks braced for an onslaught of marriage license applications.

By Jonathan KaminskyReuters / December 5, 2012

Former Army Major Margaret Witt, (r.), and Lori Johnson, stand in their south hill home, Monday, in Spokane, Wash. They are planning to marry in a few weeks after receiving one of the first marriage licenses for same sex couples this week. Witt fought the Army over "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and was with President Obama when he signed the repeal.

Jesse Tinsley/The Spokesman-Review/AP

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Olympia, Wash.

County clerks across Washington state braced on Wednesday for a flood of marriage-license applications from gay and lesbian couples eager to exchange vows once a new law legalizing same-sex matrimony takes effect at the stroke of midnight.

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Washington made history last month as one of three U.S. states where marriage rights were extended to same-sex couples by popular vote, joining Maryland and Maine in passing ballot initiatives on Nov. 6 recognizing gay nuptials.

Washington will be the first of those states to put its law into effect on Thursday. Same-sex matrimony goes on the books in Maryland and Maine on Dec. 29 and Jan. 1, respectively.

Under Washington state law, all would-be brides and grooms must submit their marriage certificates at least three days in advance. So the first wave of same-sex Washington weddings - expected to number in the hundreds - is scheduled for Sunday.

In Olympia, the state capital, the Thurston County Auditor's Office planned to open at midnight to grant marriage licenses to the 15 same-sex couples who entered a lottery to be served first. The office will reopen at 7 a.m. to serve others.

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