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‘A great, joyous day:’ Marriage equality comes to Washington state

‘A great, joyous day:’ Marriage equality comes to Washington state

Washington state’s historic marriage equality law took effect Sunday, and beginning just one minute past the stroke of midnight, the first same-sex couple took their vows.

In Seattle, officials opened City Hall on Sunday at 10 a.m. and 16 local judges volunteered to conduct the weddings. There were five separate chapels to accommodate the couples, and about 140 gay and lesbian couples are expected to be married at Seattle City Hall today.

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn, who greeted couples as they arrived at City Hall, called it a “great day, a joyous day.”

Elsewhere in King and Thurston Counties, some court houses opened at midnight, and began performing ceremonies.

© Victoria Shaffer
David Schowengerdt and Bryan Ochalla of Seattle are greeted with flowers as they walk down the steps of Seattle City Hall after being married Sunday morning.
© Victoria Shaffer
Deborah Needham and Nancy Monahan of Renton, Wash., together 14 years, leave Seattle City Hall after being married Sunday. Monahan is a retired Coast Guard Petty Officer First Class and a Navy veteran.

Private weddings are expected to take place across the state throughout the day and into the evening hours.

In King County, home to Seattle, more than 600 same-sex marriage licenses had been issued by Saturday, although the state imposes a mandatory three-day waiting period. The state began issuing marriage applications on Thursday so that same-sex couples would be able to satify the waiting period before the law took effect.

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.

Additional photos by Victoria Shaffer are here.

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