By DAVID KLEPPER Gary McDowell, left, and Zachary Marcus, both of Providence, R.I., display their newly obtained marriage certificate at City Hall, in Providence, Thursday, Aug. 1, 2013 Gay marriage became legal in Rhode Island and Minnesota at 12:01 a.m. Thursday. Officials around Rhode Island began issuing licenses when offices opened at 8:30 a.m. (AP Photo/Steven Senne) PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Same-sex marriages have begun in Rhode Island, and local officials for the first time are issuing marriage licenses to gay couples who wish to wed in the state. Gay marriage became legal in Rhode Island and Minnesota at 12:01 a.m. Thursday, bringing the number of states allowing same-sex marriage to 13. Officials around Rhode Island began issuing licenses when clerks’ offices opened at 8:30 a.m., making marriage an option for gay couples everywhere in New England. A couple that have been together for 41 years, Federico Santi and John Gacher, arrived first thing at the Newport City Clerk’s office. They previously were joined in a civil union and immediately married after getting their license. Newport City Clerk Kathleen Silvia calls Thursday, in her words, “a day of smooching” in Rhode Island.