Gay couples in Washington DC were expected to descend on the city hall today to apply for marriage licences after a same-sex marriage law came into power.

The law was signed by DC mayor Adrian Fenty in November and has passed a congressional review. The district follows five other states in allowing gay couples the right to marry.

Officials at the city hall prepared for the change by making marriage applications gender-neutral and registrars have been given new advice on officiating ceremonies.

Couple will not be able to marry until March 9th, due to a mandatory waiting period.

Opponents had attempted a last-minute appeal to block the law but this was declined by the US Supreme Court yesterday.

Chief Justice John Roberts did not address the legal issues involved but instead said that such decisions should be taken by local courts.

He also declined a request for a referendum on gay marriage.

Religious and ‘family’ groups are expected to continue their efforts to repeal the law.