Nicollet County has five same-sex marriage applications

NEW ULM – Applications for same-sex marriage licenses have been more popular in Nicollet and Blue Earth counties than other area counties.

Blue Earth County reported seven licenses on Wednesday, the day before same-sex marriage became legal in Minnesota.

Nicollet County Recorder Kathy Conlon said five licenses were issued Thursday.

An outdoor ceremony for Joe Strong and Rob Thomas – who said they’ve been together for 17 years – was held on the courthouse lawn.

“There were more than 60 people there, including the Govenaires (Drum & Bugle Corps),” Conlon said.

McLeod and Redwood County recorders said they each received one same-sex marriage application, as of Thursday afternoon. No applications were received yet in Brown, Sibley, Watonwan, or Renville counties.

Brown County District Court Judge Robert Docherty said Thursday that he has not yet been contacted to perform a same-sex marriage. Docherty said he did not know of any other judges who had been asked to perform such ceremonies.

Last November, 52.6 percent of state voters rejected a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. In May, the Minnesota Legislature approved a same-sex marriage bill and Gov. Mark Dayton signed it.

Following Iowa, Minnesota became the second state in the Midwest to legalize same-sex couples and the first Midwest state to approve it legislatively.

Voters in rural counties opposed same-sex marriage, by up to 3-to-1 margins, but they were outnumbered by metro-area residents, according to a Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) report. The House of Representatives passed the same-sex marriage bill, 75 to 59. The Senate approved the bill by a 37 to 30 vote.

Same-sex marriage migration has hit Minnesota border cities. Nineteen couples were married right after midnight by district court judges at the Clay County Courthouse in Moorhead, according to MPR.

Two newly married men said they were moving from Fargo N.D., across the Red River to Moorhead, where their marriage will be recognized. One of the men said the marriage was first about love, but also about financial benefits and rights that come with being legally wed.

A June 2013 Minneapolis Star Tribune poll showed 46 percent of Minnesotans support legalizing same-sex marriage, 44 percent opposed it, and 10 percent remain undecided.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

(Fritz Busch can be e-mailed at

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