RALEIGH, North Carolina — North Carolina has sent gender-neutral marriage license applications to local officials following the end of the state's gay marriage ban.

The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services emailed copies of the forms to county registers of deeds on Sunday with instructions to print them out on high-quality paper. The move came after a federal judge on Friday struck down the state's same-sex marriage ban as unconstitutional.

Days before the ruling, officials in several counties had been pressing the state to distribute the forms in preparation for an expected surge of same-sex couples seeking to legally wed. The Republican administration of Gov. Pat McCrory, who supported the marriage ban, refused.

The state's old forms had blanks only for "Groom" and "Bride." The new forms say "Applicant 1" and Applicant 2."