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King County Plans to Extend Hours for First Washington Same-Sex Marriage Licenses

Referendum 74, which affirms the state's same sex-marriage law, would take effect Dec. 6, and the first couples could be married Dec. 9. In preparation for high demand, King County is making plans to open extended hours.

The legalization of same-sex marriage in Washington is passing, and in preparation for high demand, King County is making plans to extend its hours for the issuance of marriage licenses the first week that gay couples can apply for them.

The county plans to open extended hours on Thursday and Friday, Dec. 6 and 7, and even on Saturday, Dec. 8, though the details on what those hours will be are not available, county officials said.

The first gay marriages in the state would be on Dec. 9, because of the three-day waiting period after getting a marriage license.

“Marriage equality is now the law of the land in Washington State, thanks to voters who have made our state, Maryland, and Maine, the first in the nation to recognize this civil right at the ballot box. We can all be proud that our state is on the right side of history," King County Executive Dow Constantine said in a prepared statement.

Referendum 74 affirms the same-sex marriage law that the legislature passed and Gov. Chris Gregoire signed earlier this year. Opponents of the law gathered enough signatures to force it to a vote.

The measure was passing narrowly throughout the state, though in King County -- the state's most populous county -- the measure had large support, passing 64.5 percent to 34.5 percent in initial returns.

Constantine said he plans to sign the first marriage license for a same-sex couple in King County using a pen that Gregoire used to sign the bill into law.

The win came the same day as voters in Maine and Maryland also legalized gay marriage, and that Minnesota voters rejected a constitutional amendment that would have banned same-sex marriage -- though same-sex marriage is not legal in Minnesota. (Read a New York Times article on the four ballot measures.)

Information about getting a marriage license in King County is available at the King County Recorder's Office:

According to the Recorder's Office, these are the requirements for marriage in Washington:

  • A Washington State marriage license is valid in Washington Stateonly.
  • The application fee is $64. Cash and local checks (with local ID) are accepted; no credit or debit cards.
  • There is a three-day waiting period before the marriage can take place.
  • A marriage license is valid for 60 days.
  • A blood test or physical exam is not required in Washington State.
  • Mailed applications may be notarized and returned for processing but the original application must be submitted (fee must be included and must be by money order or cashier's check only).
  • For more information, click on the links below or contact the Recorder's Office at 206-296-4021.

Update Nov. 7, 7:30 p.m.

The Secretary of State's Nov. 7 6:30 p.m. update of the ballot numbers show that the measure leads 51.96 percent in favor to 48.04 percent against in the state, very similar to results as of election night. Updated King County numbers were similar to election night, with a slight uptick in ballots in favor, 65.66 percent, and 34.34 percent against.

Statement from Dow Constantine

King County Executive Dow Constantine today thanked Washington voters for approving Referendum 74:

“Marriage equality is now the law of the land in Washington State, thanks to voters who have made our state, Maryland, and Maine, the first in the nation to recognize this civil right at the ballot box. We can all be proud that our state is on the right side of history.

“This is a journey that started back in 1971, when Faygele Ben-Miriam and Paul Barwick were denied a marriage license by King County. Faygele did not live to see this day, but I think he would be proud of what we’ve accomplished.

“I want to thank all the legislative leaders for their tenacity in keeping the issue in front of the state Legislature. I have one of the pens Governor Gregoire used to sign the marriage equality bill into law, and I look forward to using that same pen to personally issue the first marriage license to a same-sex couple in King County on the first day the law goes into effect, December 6.

“We expect large numbers of applicants for marriage licenses in those first few days, so our King County Recorder’s Office will be open for extended hours for the issuance of marriage licenses on Thursday and Friday, Dec. 6 and 7, and even on Saturday, Dec. 8.”

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