Portland will likely be the site of Maine’s first same-sex wedding.

The city announced Thursday that it will open its municipal offices from 12:01 to 3:01 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 29 – the day the state law allowing same-sex marriage takes effect – to issue marriage licenses and perform weddings.

The announcement came a day after Augusta said it would open its offices for the same purpose on that Saturday, during more traditional morning hours.

Portland decided to go a little further and open the minute the law takes effect.

“There was a lot of discussion about logistics, and the feedback from staff and others was that this would work,” said city spokeswoman Nicole Clegg.

“It’s very exciting,” said Ian Grady, communications director for EqualityMaine, the state’s leading gay-rights group. “I think the biggest part of the excitement is these people who have been waiting years and years who literally don’t want to wait another second.”

Maine voters approved a citizens initiative in November to allow same-sex couples to get marriage licenses. With the vote needing confirmation by the Secretary of State’s Office and the governor, the law was expected to take effect in early 2013. But the state announced this week that the law would take effect on Dec. 29.

Most municipal offices in Maine don’t have Saturday hours. The announced date prompted discussion in cities and towns about what to do to accommodate couples who want to get married right away. Portland’s announcement could prompt other communities to follow suit.

South Portland has already said it won’t open its offices on Dec. 29, but they will be open on Dec. 31, during the normal Monday business hours of 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Marriage licenses will be available until 4 p.m. that day, said Assistant City Clerk Karen Morrill.

A marriage license is issued by the clerk’s office in the city or town where the couple lives. Because a couple must get married within 90 days of getting a license, many might wait if they are planning bigger weddings.

That means there’s a strong probability that couples who show up early on the morning of Dec. 29 to get licenses will get married at the same time.

Portland’s announcement indicates that anyone who is in line by 3:01 a.m. will be served. Straight couples can also get marriage certificates and get married during the special hours.

More information about Portland’s hours on Dec. 29 is online at http://www.portlandmaine.gov/voter/cityclerk.asp.

Staff Writer Eric Russell can be contacted at 791-6344 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: @PPHEricRussell

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