Nearly 800 same-sex couples have applied for marriage licenses in Washington
December 07, 2012
Yesterday, December 6, was the first day that same-sex couples in Washington state could be issued marriage licenses. Throughout the day, nearly 800 same-sex couples - 769, according to Legal Voice - passed through court houses in counties across the state to request their marriage license. The first weddings between same-sex couples in the state will be held on Sunday, December 9.
Same-sex couples requested marriage licenses in 38 of the 39 Washington counties - including Cowlitz County, King County, Kitsap County, and Spokane County. Here are some excerpts from local reporting in several counties:
- North Olympic Peninsula: "Carlyle Bishop and Harry Vossemas, both of Port Townsend, still earned the distinction of being first on the Peninsula. But they were not the first residents from the North Olympic Peninsula to get a same-sex marriage license on the first day of the new state law. ... That distinction went to Diana Wickman and Judy Persall of Happy Valley, near Sequim, who trekked to Olympia to obtain their marriage license shortly after 12:01 a.m. in Thurston County. Thurston and King counties issued licenses early Thursday to commemorate the new law." (Read More)
- Spokane County: "After hearing about the long lines in other counties, Chris Rogers and Matt Dill arrived at the Spokane County Courthouse at 5 a.m. to find themselves first in line. They said they were happy to relinquish dibs on the first official license to Witt and Johnson, given the history. 'I think anybody who's getting their certificate today is making part of history being first, but it's kind of cool being one of the first in Spokane,' Dill said. ... They also expressed thanks to voters for passing Referendum 74 to make gay marriage legal in the state of Washington. Gov. Chris Gregoire certified the election Wednesday." (Read More)
- Kitsap County: "Lara Owczarski wiped away tears as she stood next to partner Jennifer Lee on Thursday at the Kitsap County Auditor's Office. Someone handed her a box of tissues as the clerk continued with routine questions asked of all couples planning to wed. Owczarski and Lee, together for 14 years, signed on the dotted line, handed over a check for $64 and pondered their future as a legally married couple. 'We're excited,' Lee said. 'It's a long time coming.'" (Read More)
- Whatcom County: "Melissa Adams had tears in her eyes as she held the envelope in her hand. Inside was something she'd been waiting for for years: a marriage license. She and her soon-to-be wife, Sarah Adams, were the first Whatcom County couple to get their license Thursday, Dec. 6, the first day that gay couples throughout the state could legally get their marriage licenses after the state's Nov. 6 vote to legalize same-sex marriage. ... Couples clapped and cheered as the two women were the first to complete the licensing process. 'I can't even explain it,' Melissa Adams said as she held the license. 'It's just awesome. I'm shaking. My whole body is trembling. It means the whole world.'" (Read More)
- Cowlitz County: "Niis Bue and Barbara Vining have been a couple for 18 years and licensed domestic partners since 2009 - but they still weren't fully prepared for the emotion of being handed Cowlitz County's first ever same-sex marriage license Thursday morning. 'It's hard to actually believe,' a stunned but smiling Vining said afterward. 'It was such a long time coming, I really didn't think it would happen,' Bue added. The Longview couple had planned a June wedding, so they weren't going to get a license Thursday, the first day same-sex licences are available in Washington." (Read More)
- King County: "The line at the marriage license bureau at one point snaked down the block and halfway around the building. The King County executive, Dow Constantine, operating on one hour of sleep, was on his way to the restroom with a toothbrush and a tube of toothpaste. It was Mr. Constantine who made the decision to open the doors at midnight and to get staff to volunteer to work through the wee hours. 'People have waited years for this,' he said. 'They should not have to wait a minute longer to take advantage of their rights.'" (Read More)
Now, most of these couples will actually tie the knot and become legally married on Sunday.
The exciting day in Washington came a month after the 2012 Election Day, when the freedom to marry triumphed at the ballot in four states - Maine, Maryland, and Washington voted to end the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage, and Minnesota voted against an anti-gay constitutional amendment that would have permanently limited the freedom to marry for same-sex couples.