FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (CBSDC/AP) — A county in Arkansas has begun issuing wedding licenses to same-sex couples after a circuit judge overturned the state’s constitutional ban on gay marriage.

Washington County Clerk Becky Lewallen says 23 licenses were issued Monday morning to same-sex couples. Another license was issued to a heterosexual couple Monday morning as well.

Couples began lining up before the courthouse opened Monday, with one couple arriving at 2:30 a.m. Many couples immediately wed outside the courthouse after receiving the licenses.

The crowds cleared out after about 30 minutes Monday morning.

Washington, Pulaski and Carroll counties are now issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Several counties have refused to do so, saying the Arkansas Supreme Court must weigh in.

Last November, President Barack Obama praised the state of Illinois for passing similar legislation.

Obama, who served in the Illinois state Senate, said he was “overjoyed for all the committed couples in Illinois.”

The president commended members of the Legislature for approaching the issue in an “open and fair way.” At the time, he said the nation’s journey is not complete until gay men and women are treated equally under the law.

(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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