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Harford County Prepares for Same-Sex Marriage Licenses

Same-sex couples can apply for marriage licenses in Bel Air starting Dec. 12.

The Harford County Circuit Court will begin accepting applications for same-sex marriage licenses Wednesday.

Gov. Martin O'Malley signed a proclamation enabling Maryland courthouses to issue the licenses last week so that same-sex couples could be legally wed as of Jan. 1, 2013, when the law recognizing same-sex marriage takes effect.

Clerk James Reilly of Harford County's Circuit Court said his office had "some internal administrative things to take care of" before the change.

"We could have done it as of Dec. 6 and some of the clerks' offices did," Reilly said, "but in Harford County, the software had to be changed."

When language on Harford County's marriage licenses was revised from "man and woman" to "party 1 and party 2," the license-creation software experienced some glitches, Reilly told Patch.

In Baltimore County, Anne Arundel County and Baltimore City, same-sex couples were able to get their licenses on Dec. 6. Cecil County is issuing the licenses starting Monday, Dec. 10, according to CecilDaily.com

"We’ll start taking applicants on Dec. 12," Reilly said of Harford County.

Maryland's attorney general issued a statement last month that courts could begin issuing licenses as soon as the governor signed same-sex marriage into law, reported The Washington Post, though the licenses won't take effect until Jan. 1, 2013. 

By allowing licenses to be granted ahead of time, couples can have same-sex marriages recognized as soon as the law takes effect, despite the fact that Jan. 1 is a federal holiday when courts won't be open.

So far, Reilly said there is interest in obtaining the licenses early.

"We’ve gotten several inquiries," Reilly said. He said with assurance that people will still have "plenty of time" before Jan. 1 to get their licenses.

To obtain a marriage license in Harford County, Reilly said at least one party must appear in person at the Circuit Court with the other party's social security number.

"There are no different rules," Reilly said with respect to same-sex marriage. "Rules are the same."

For more information on obtaining a marriage license, see the Harford County Circuit Court marriage license information page, call 410-638-3489 or visit the office at 20 W. Courtland St. in Bel Air.

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