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A remote town on the state's Arctic Coast where people are used to doing their own thing has applied that independent streak to gay marriage.

A magistrate in Barrow, Alaska, the nation's northernmost community, has performed what is believed to be the state's first gay marriage ceremony ahead of schedule after a federal judge struck down the state's ban. Couples lined up across the state to get licenses Monday morning, beginning the clock on a mandatory three-day wait until ceremonies could be performed.

However, in Barrow, Kristine Hilderbrand said Magistrate Mary Treiber agreed to waive the wait requirement and married Hilderbrand and Sarah Ellis during a ceremony late Monday afternoon.

Hilderbrand says gay marriage is not really an issue in Barrow. She says people in the community "accept you for who you are." Alaska helped touch off a national debate 15 years ago with a ban on same-sex unions.

U.S. District Judge Timothy Burgess ruled Sunday that the ban violated the due process and equal protection guarantees of the U.S. Constitution. His ruling came over the objection of gay marriage opponents who say states should decide the issue, not courts.


— The Associated Press