At just one minute after midnight Thursday, Washington state began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couple, becoming the first of three states to do so in the coming weeks after voters approved marriage equality measures on Nov. 6.
By 8:45 a.m., marriage officials in King County, home of Seattle, had issued 345 marriage licenses in the overnight hours, reported Seattle PI. The licensing marathon was expected to last more than 18 hours.
Image via KING-TV.
Jane Abbott Lighty and Pete-e Petersen, a West Seattle couple of 35 years, were the first couple to get a license, after waiting decades to get married. As the clock struck midnight, a crowd led by King County Executive Dow Constantine clapped and cheered, and Lighty, 77, and Petersen, 85, raised their hands to take an oath.
“People who have been waiting all these years to have their rights recognized should not have to wait one minute longer,” said Constantine, who stayed up into the wee hours to issue the county’s first marriage licenses.
“To have our 35-year loving relationship publicly honored and celebrated and have this be a legal marriage means everything to both of us,” said Lighty, a former nurse. She and Petersen, a former Korean War flight nurse, will be wed at a Seattle Men’s Chorus concert at Benaroya Hall this weekend.
LGBT activist Dan Savage, and his husband Terry Miller, co-founders of the “It Get’s Better” project, were also on hand to obtain a marriage license in their home state. The couple had previously married in Vancouver, Canada in 2005.
“Today is a great day for all Washington families who now have the ability to make a lifelong commitment through marriage,” said HRC President Chad Griffin.
“The images of happy couples, many of whom have waited decades for this moment, remind the country of the imperative that all families be treated equally under the law, no matter where they live. We celebrate today, and tomorrow we continue the important work of ensuring equality for all LGBT people in every corner of this vast country,” Griffin said.
“This is a very important and historic day in the great state of Washington,” said Gov. Chris Gregoire on Wednesday before signing the measure that officially certified the election results, legalizing same-sex marriage in Washington state.
“For many years now we’ve said one more step, one more step. And this is our last step for marriage equality in the state of Washington,” said Gregoire.
Washington state is one of three states in which voters approved marriage equality measures on Nov. 6, approving the ballot measure with 54 percent of the vote; the other states were Maryland and Maine.
Because of Washington’s mandatory three-day waiting period, the first gay weddings will not occur until Sunday.