Gay couples line up early for marriage licenses

Hennepin County made marriage licenses available to same-sex couples at 7:30 a.m. Thursday; they can legally marry Aug. 1

Paul Melchert and James Zimmerman pose with their newly acquired marriage license at the Hennepin County Government Center on Thursday. The couple of nine years brought their twin sons along with them on the historic day. Credit: Gabrielle Martinson

DOWNTOWN WEST — Same-sex couples were able to apply for a marriage license for the first time in Minnesota on Thursday, June 6.

In Hennepin County, gay couples slowly filed in to the government center at 7:30 a.m. for their licenses. Phil Oxman and Harvey Zuckman of Minneapolis were among the first gay couples to receive their license after being together 38 years.

“We never thought it was going to be possible,” Oxman said. “It’s all been happening so quickly, it’s mind-blowing.”

The pair plans to marry in a civil ceremony Aug. 1, the first day that same-sex couples will be able to legally marry in Minnesota. They will then plan a religious ceremony in a synagogue for next May.

The couple said they are looking forward to the security marriage will bring.

“I think our relationship will change,” Oxman said, tearing up. “First of all, I can call him my husband.”

Cindy Edwards and Elizabeth Feinberg also made the trip to get their marriage license Thursday. The couple said they were planning to spend the day celebrating both their imminent marriage and Edwards’ birthday.

“We just wanted to start the day with the biggest gift you could give somebody,” Feinberg said.

The two have been together 26 years after meeting in college in Tampa. While they haven’t set a date for their wedding, the couple said they love to throw parties, and they may think about putting something together for an August ceremony.

“It’s the kind of thing where you don’t talk about marriage because you couldn’t marry,” Feinberg said.

Minnesota is the 12th state to legalize gay marriage, but Edwards said there isn’t anywhere she would rather be getting married.

“Minnesota has always been very kind to us,” Edwards said. “That’s why we’re here.”

County service centers processed 45 same-sex marriage licenses June 6, said Cara Lee, a Hennepin County spokeswoman. On average, the service centers process about 135 to 154 marriage license applications per week.