HRC Blog

Celebration as Washington State Issues Marriage Licenses to Same-Sex Couples

Jane Abbott Lightly and Pete-e Petersen; Washington; Same-sex couples; Marriage equality

Photo: Curtis Knapp

As the clock struck midnight in Seattle, hundreds of couples celebrated as the state issued its first same-sex marriage licenses!

News footage showed couples singing, passing around flowers and sharing toasts of champagne while they patiently waited their turn to receive their licenses.

Jane Abbott Lightly and Pete-e Petersen, who have been together for 35 years, were first in a line that stretched around the downtown administration building.

"It's very humbling to be chosen first. We feel like we're representing a lot of people in the state who have wanted this for a long time," Petersen, 85, told the Seattle Times. "It's hard to explain the thrill that we are really going to get married."

King County, home of Seattle, and Thurston County, home of Olympia, both opened their auditors’ offices at midnight so couples could marry as soon as possible.

Gov. Chris Gregoire, whose leadership was instrumental to the passage of the bill both legislatively and at the ballot box, signed the marriage equality law on Wednesday afternoon.

Though couples began receiving their licenses today, a law that mandates a three-day waiting period means they can’t legally marry until Sunday.

Washington joins six states and the District of Columbia in embracing marriage equality. Maryland, which begins accepting applications for marriage licenses today, and Maine will begin doing so in the coming weeks.

As part of the largest mobilization effort ever in HRC history to expand equality, HRC donated more than $1.4 million to advance marriage in Washington – first by way of historic legislation passed earlier this year, and then continuing with the successful ballot campaign.

HRC provided key leadership to the Washington United for Marriage campaign via our local steering committee, including campaign chair Lacy All. We energized our members and supporters around the campaign, both locally and nationally, with more than 600,000 emails to our members and supporters. In the run-up to Election Day, we signed up nearly 1,000 volunteers for efforts including phone banking, town halls, and canvasing.

Cheers to all of the happy couples who waited a long time for this day to come!

If you and your loved one are getting married, think about joining HRC’s Wedding Registry as a way to support equality on your special day.

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