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December 5, 2012 at 8:25 PM

King County issues first marriage licenses to same-sex couples

Jeri Andrews, left, and Amy Andrews of Seattle wait in line outside the King County Recorder’s Office for a marriage license. They had a wedding ceremony this summer, and Amy decided to wear her veil. (BETTINA HANSEN / Seattle Times)

UPDATE: 12:30 a.m. | Among the first 10 couples for whom King County Executive Dow Constantine signed licenses were Stuart Wilber and John Breitweiser of Seattle’s Madison Valley.

The day after their 36th anniversary, just happens to be the first day they legally marry. They’ll wed this Sunday at a neighbor’s house in a celebration they rushed to put together over the past month.

Wilber said planning “has had its moments” but it was worth it, and they’re excited.

After Constantine signed the 10th license, he took a moment to speak about same-sex marriage advocates who had died before today.

“The fact that we are here today is a tribute to them,” he said.

But the mood quickly lifted as he led the couples out with “now let’s have a party!”

UPDATE: 12:03 a.m. | After decades of waiting to be legally married — married, not domestically partnered — Jane Abbott Lighty and Pete-e Petersen of West Seattle saw their marriage license signed by King County Executive Dow Constantine at 12:02 a.m.

The signing was preceded by a loud countdown to midnight and cheers.

UPDATE: 12:02 a.m. | Historic moment: King County has begun issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

UPDATE: 11:44 p.m. | One of the most prominent members of Washington state’s gay community called Wednesday night an “amazing piece of history.”

“This is one of those rare moments where we’re actually watching history happen,” said State Senate Majority Leader Ed Murray, D-Seattle.

Murray, who earlier in the day announced he is forming an exploratory committee to run for Seattle mayor, said he is not getting a marriage license tonight but wanted to support those who are.

UPDATE: 11:35 p.m. | Iridescent bubbles floating above the waiting crowd came from a machine Rachel and Sandy Smith-Mosel of Federal Way brought.

Those in line next to them got Krispy Kreme doughnuts as they shouted “Put a ring on it!”

The couple married in Canada in 2004, in California in 2008 and will marry in Washington soon though they haven’t set a date.

Both of them, their five children and Rachel’s parents were featured in an R-74 ad earlier this year.

UPDATE: 11:17 p.m. | Garriel Keeble beamed as she entered the gates outside the King County Administration Building Wednesday night.

“This has been a long time coming,” she told the county staffer working the gate.

Keeble, a 62-year-old Seattle resident, said she met her soon-to-officially-be wife 44 years ago. They agreed to marry four years later, in 1972.

The happiness of finally getting marriage license is “hard to take, because it’s taken so long,” Keeble said.

The couple was well back in the line, clearly facing at least an hour of waiting to get a license.

But as for that wait, Keeble said she doesn’t mind.

UPDATE: 10:45 p.m. | Nearly 200 same-sex couples grabbed numbered tickets as the gates opened outside the King County Administration Building at 10 p.m.

The couples, many with chairs, settled into a snaking queue on the north plaza of the building.

The line outside had stretched around the block, filled with some 400 people — including friends and family.

The county will let the first of the couples into the building at midnight. But for those closer to the back of the line, officials say, it could take four hours or more to get a marriage license.

UPDATE: 10:38 p.m. | More than 350 people waited in line  before the gates opened.

The first couple in line, Amanda Dollente and Kelly Middleton, cried as they were welcomed into a queue where the county was handing out numbered tickets. King County Executive Dow Constantine signed their ticket.

UPDATE: 10:35 p.m. | King County Executive Dow Constantine hailed the night as historic in a brief speech to reporters before the release.

“I am so glad this night has finally arrive,” he said. “This has been a long struggle.”

He added that, “The people of Washington state have spoken and it’s time to embrace all of our fellow Washingtonians, regardless of sexual orientation.”

Also in attendance, milling about the crowd, were Sheriff John Urquhart and State Senate Majority Leader (and new Seattle mayoral candidate) Ed Murray.

UPDATE: 9:54 p.m. | The line of waiting couples outside King County’s administration building has grown in size and spirit.

Some 200 people have gathered  sharing love stories and passing around Champagne, candy and flowers.

At one point, a group began singing “Going to the Chapel of  Love.”

Passing cars are honking in support of the couples. One yelled “Anybody need a maid of honor!?”

EARLIER POST | More than a dozen couples lined up outside the King County Administration Building early Wednesday evening, hours before the county planned to issue some of the state’s first-ever licenses for same-sex marriages.

County Executive Dow Constantine will sign licenses for the first couples starting at 12:01 a.m. Thursday, the minute Washington officially joins six other states and the District of Columbia in recognizing same-sex marriages (Maine and Maryland will do the same in the next few weeks).

A number of counties across the state are opening early and staying late to accommodate an anticipated rush of same-sex couples eager to marry.

In King County, hundreds of couples are expected to receive licenses before the county Recorder’s Office, at 500 4th Avenue in downtown Seattle, closes at 6:30 p.m.

County officials said they would start handing out numbered tickets to waiting couples at 10 p.m. Wednesday.

Kelly Middleton and Amanda Dollente weren’t going to chance coming that late.

They arrived at the county administration building, bundled in sweatshirts and hoods, at 4 p.m. Wednesday — an early arrival spurred, in part, by being late to Black Friday a couple weeks ago.

This day obviously means much more, the Auburn couple said.

“We’ve been so anxious about this,” said Middleton, a 24-year-old quality inspector. “This day couldn’t have come soon enough for us.”

The couple, who have been in a domestic partnership since March and have two young adopted daughters, plan to marry Dec. 12.

For all couples, state law mandates a three-day waiting period once a marriage license is issued, meaning the first same-sex weddings won’t take place until Sunday.

Voters approved gay marriage 53.7 percent to 46.3 percent in last month’s election, according to the Secretary of State. The measure, called Referendum 74, did particularly well in King County, where it earned support from 67 percent of voters.

The referendum came about after the Legislature narrowly approved gay marriage in February.

Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and Vermont, as well as the District of Columbia, also recognize same-sex marriages. Maine and Maryland each approved them last month and will start issuing licenses soon.

Comments | More in General news, Government, Homepage, Politics | Topics: Dow Constantine, gay marriage, King County


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