Same-sex couples begin marrying in Wash. state
Judge Karli Kristine Jorgensen, left, officiates the wedding of Corianton Hale, right, and partner Keith Bacon at Seattle City Hall, on Sunday, Dec. 9, 2012. The pair was among the first gay couples to legally wed in the state. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Published Monday, December 10, 2012 7:28AM EST
SEATTLE -- Keith Bacon and Corianton Hale wore dress shirts as they recited their vows at Seattle City Hall, as the city hosted more than 100 weddings on the first day same-sex couples could marry in Washington state. A few hours later Sunday, the happy couple had changed into matching t-shirts that read "Looks Like We Made It."
For Bacon and Hale, and the scores of other gay and lesbian couples that chose to marry in a very public venue, they said they wanted to share with others the significance of the day.
"It's tremendously meaningful," Hale said. "It's really powerful to have the official approval and exact same rights as all of our heterosexual friends."
Last month, Washington, Maine and Maryland became the first U.S. states to pass same-sex marriage by popular vote. They joined six other states -- New York, Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont -- and Washington, D.C., which had already enacted laws or issued court rulings permitting same-sex marriage.
Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire and Secretary of State Sam Reed certified the election results on Wednesday afternoon, and the law took effect at 12:01 a.m. Thursday. Same-sex couples who previously were married in another state that allows gay marriage, like Massachusetts, will not have to get remarried in Washington state. Their marriages became valid here as soon as the law took effect.
The referendum had asked voters to either approve or reject the state law legalizing same-sex marriage that legislators passed earlier this year. That law was signed by Gregoire in February but was put on hold pending the outcome of the election. Nearly 54 per cent of voters approved the measure.
Hundreds of gay and lesbian couples picked up their marriage licenses as early as 12:01 a.m. Thursday, but because of the state's three-day waiting period, the earliest weddings could take place was just after midnight, early Sunday morning. In King County, home to Seattle, more than 600 same-sex marriage licenses were issued by Saturday.
Some courthouses opened right at midnight, and started marrying couples.
While numerous weddings were taking place across the state, both private and public, the city hall weddings were the largest public event, with more than 130 couples taking part. The city set up five separate chapels to accommodate the revelers. Starting at 10 a.m., cheers and applause regularly broke out as another couple's marriage became official. Weddings were held until 5 p.m.
After couples married, they exited city hall, greeted by a steady rain and by dozens of supporters who cheered them with shouts of "congratulations" and flowers as they descended a large staircase down to the street.
"I don't even have words for this," said Caren Goldenberg of Seattle, who married her partner of seven years, Casey Evans. "It just makes me really proud of my city."