Sunday, December 9th marked a historic day for Washington, and for the LGBT community. Washington was one of three states to approve same-sex marriage by popular vote in the November election—the first three, in fact. Washington Governor Chris Gregoire and Secretary of State Same Reed certified referendum 74 on Wednesday, December 5th, and the law took effect on December 6th at 12:01 AM. A three-day waiting period meant that the soonest same-sex couples could get married was on Sunday at 12:01 a.m. And get married they did.
By Saturday afternoon, over six hundred same-sex marriage licenses had been issued in King County alone. Sunday, more than 130 couples flocked to Seattle City Hall to tie the knot—and to their surprise and delight, they had hearty congratulations awaiting them from onlookers and supporters lining the steps of City Hall.
“I don’t even have words for this,” Caren Goldenberg of Seattle said. She married her seven-year partner Casey Evans on Sunday. “It just makes me really proud of my city.” City Hall was open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and had a total of 16 volunteer judges performing marriages all day. Some courthouses even opened right at midnight on Sunday to let the marriages begin. Many more private weddings took place all over the state.
The Seattle Men’s Chorus, longtime supporters of marriage equality, performed their holiday concert, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” on Sunday as well. Pete-e Peterson, 85, and her partner of 35 years, Jane Lightly, 77, were married during one of the concert breaks, on stage and in front of 2,000 people. They were given a standing ovation.
“I was just absolutely flabbergasted,” Petersen said. Chorus member Neil Hoyt and his partner of 24 years, Donald Jenny, were also married in the ceremony, where they committed to “laugh with you, grieve with you in sorrow, accept you as you are with all your strengths and weaknesses, comfort you when you need support, and seek comfort from you when I need support.”
“I never thought we’d get married, really,” Petersen admitted.