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First Licenses Issued as Gay Marriage Law Takes Effect

Cheers and applause filled the King County Recorder's Office just after midnight Thursday.

A couple shares an emotional moment. (Credit: Caitlin Moran)
A couple shares an emotional moment. (Credit: Caitlin Moran)

Editor's note: This story was originally published on Dec. 6, 2012.

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Hundreds of local same-sex couples received marriage licenses at the King County Administration Building early Thursday amid fanfare that included champagne, a bubble machine, impromptu singing groups, and many, many cheers.

West Seattle residents Jane Abbott Lighty, 77, and Pete-e Petersen, 85, were the first same-sex couple to receive a marriage license just after midnight Thursday as Washington state’s voter-approved referendum legalizing gay marriage took effect. They were followed closely behind by Neil Hoyt and Donald Glenn Jenny of Bellevue.

Hoyt, 52, and Jenny, 64, have been together for 23 years and plan to marry Sunday at a Seattle Men's Chorus concert.

"It's overwhelming. It really is," Hoyt said a few minutes after the couple received their marriage license in a special ceremony that was led by County Executive Dow Constantine and included dozens of media.

Jenny agreed that the moment felt surreal.

"We never thought it would happen," he said. "It hasn't sunken in yet."

'Why would we wait any longer?'

Hundreds of people began lining up outside the King County Administration Building at around 8 p.m. to receive marriage licenses on Thursday, the day gay marriage officially became legal in the state of Washington. All couples in Washington must wait three days before exchanging vows, making Sunday, Dec. 9, the first day same-sex couples can legally get married.

For Shoreline couple Ruth Barton, 54, and Loretta Graves, 65, the day was a long time coming. Together for 22 years, the women had planned to marry next year on their anniversary of being together.

"And then we thought, 'we've waited 22 years, why would we wait any longer?'" said Barton, who manages the performing arts center at Redmond High School.

Issaquah couple Joey Earls, 27, and Terron Watson, 33, have been in a domestic partnership for five years and said that getting married is the next natural step. They will hold their wedding ceremony next Wednesday on 12-12-12 and are looking forward to celebrating with both their families, who they said have been supportive throughout their relationship.

"At the end of the day, it's just about who you love—nothing else really matters," Earls said.

The moment was especially emotional for Shoreline resident Monica Sicard, a disabled Army veteran. Sicard, 56, met her fiancee, Sandy Tomlin, 55, in a church parking lot and plans to marry her Dec. 15 at the same Seattle church.

Sicard said serving in the military under "don't ask, don't tell" was very difficult—and makes this time all the more significant.

"To have this happen, it's a pretty big deal," she said, wiping away a tear.

The county administration building will remain open until 6:30 p.m. Thursday, and officials said they expect at least a few hundred people to receive licenses today. About 120 licenses were issued within the first hour.

Voters approved Referendum 74, making gay marriage legal in the state, on Nov. 6 by a margin of 54 percent to 46 percent. In King County, the measure passed 67 percent to 33 percent.

Don December 06, 2012 at 08:43 AM
And the world takes one more step closer to hell...
Japanese Maple December 06, 2012 at 08:48 AM
So happy you stayed up to post this. Now get over it and go to bed.
Jason F. December 06, 2012 at 01:47 PM
Everything about this makes me sick to my stomach.
Linda wise December 06, 2012 at 03:11 PM
Thank you for covering this. We have a free society & thus the right to be for or against something & state that fact. It is a privilege & it is sad how judgemental & hateful some people are with angry words. I believe God is the ultimate judge, & people with angry words including Christians will probably go to hell before any Gay marriage participants will. These relationships have been around a long time LSW
cassarooni December 06, 2012 at 03:44 PM
@Don: I'm sure the same things were said when the slaves were freed, when women got the vote , when ... Oh nevermind. This all clearly has fallen on dear ears.
David K. Farkas December 06, 2012 at 04:08 PM
Gay marriage doesn't threaten marriage or society in any way at all. It's great that committed couples want to get married. The law does not require a clergyman/clergywomen to conduct a marriage ceremony in a house of worship; no one's rights are being stepped on.
Margaret Santjer December 06, 2012 at 04:18 PM
King County says it surpassed 300 marriage licenses issued as of 6:45 a.m. There's currently no waiting in line.
Ken James December 06, 2012 at 04:25 PM
Now everyone gets a trophy.
Jenny Manning December 06, 2012 at 04:26 PM
Another update: As of 8 a.m., King County has issued 324 marriage licenses. No one is currently waiting in line.
bigyaz December 06, 2012 at 05:47 PM
Well, your hatred and intolerance makes me sick to my stomach. But guess what? You don't have to marry a man, and I don't have to hang out with you. So nobody gets hurt here.
Ken James December 06, 2012 at 06:03 PM
@bigyaz - So let me see if I understand your position... If someone has a different set of values and beliefs than you hold, they are hateful and intolerant? So let me go out on a limb here and assume that you might be pro-abortion and Joshua might be pro-life. Which one of you is hateful and intolerant?
Ken James December 06, 2012 at 06:10 PM
Linda, you decry how some people are judgmental and hateful, then you close with "Christians will probably go to hell" because of their angry words. Hypocrisy much? As for your 'free society'... will you support those who wish to create a marriage of three people instead of only two? Why not? If your theory is that people can do whatever pleases them, how will you discriminate against that minor adjustment in marriage law? Seems rather arbitrary.
Cassandra Sommers December 06, 2012 at 06:10 PM
May Gods will be displaced on all who have displeased him.
Priya Sinha December 06, 2012 at 07:01 PM
CONGRATS! To everyone getting their marriage license. And, best wishes for a happy life!
Marilyn R. Glasscock, RScP December 06, 2012 at 09:56 PM
I am so glad to see this happening. I am straight, but my gay and Lesbian friends are among the most intelligent, creative and loving people I have ever met. They seem to have the most longevity in their relationships, too.
Jason F. December 07, 2012 at 12:03 PM
I'm pro-life and I'm pro-love. But love isn't a mushy feeling...it's an essential bonding element in only a man and a woman when they love each other. This love is not the same love a man and a man would feel. It's not possible. I love my best friend who is a man, but it is a very platonic love. Never once in my life have I ever had homosexual thoughts about him, but I love the daylight out of that guy, seriously a great friend. I also love my wife, it is a very different love, she is the mother of my children and my mate. Very different love at work. I'm frankly a little annoyed when people refer to "love"...you can "Love" anything! I love Mexican food...I'm not going to marry it though....
Jason F. December 07, 2012 at 12:07 PM
I agree with Ken, Linda your statement is both hateful and inappropriate. Your double standard disgusts me. Please don't confuse me standing up for what is right and true to be confused with your skewed view of "judging." I don't judge homosexuals in anyway, that is for God to take care of. This doesn't mean I condone the behavior and I will stand up for what is right. Very similar to the way I do not judge criminals, even Bin Laden, they will get what they have coming from God. I also do not condone the atrocious behavior they take a part in. I don't support homosexuality or their campaign to destroy marriage.
Jason F. December 07, 2012 at 12:10 PM
I'm sorry David, but gay marriage in the very term is an oximoron and can't coexist together. Marriage is a way to classify families. Natural families. Homosexual cannot have natural families therefore they are ineligible for marriage. Man+woman+children=Natural Family. Reproduction is the root of our survival. Homosexuals do not reproduce and they do not contribute to survival, in the animal kingdom they are dead weight to the human tribe.
Jason F. December 07, 2012 at 12:13 PM
I'm happy for your intelligent friends. Nothing about intelligence makes your homosexual friends eligible for marriage.
Jason F. December 07, 2012 at 12:13 PM
I agree Don
Jason F. December 07, 2012 at 12:15 PM
How do you know? Were you there when slaves were freed and women got the right to vote? I bet you support women killing their own child.....

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