Washington state readies for same-sex marriage

Thu Dec 6, 2012 8:26am EST
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By Jonathan Kaminsky

OLYMPIA, Washington (Reuters) - A law legalizing same-sex matrimony took effect in Washington state on Thursday, and officials geared up for a flood of marriage-license applications from gay and lesbian couples eager to exchange vows.

Washington made history last month as one of three U.S. states where marriage rights were extended to same-sex couples by popular vote, joining Maryland and Maine in passing ballot initiatives on November 6 recognizing gay nuptials.

Washington became the first of those states to put its law into effect - it became law at the stroke of midnight - and same-sex matrimony is set to go on the books in Maine on December 29 and in Maryland on January 1.

Under Washington state law, all would-be brides and grooms must submit their marriage certificates at least three days in advance. So the first wave of same-sex Washington weddings - expected to number in the hundreds - is scheduled for Sunday.

In Olympia, the state capital, the Thurston County Auditor's Office planned to grant marriage licenses to the 15 same-sex couples who entered a lottery to be served first at midnight. The office was to reopen in the morning to serve others.

"This is an historic occasion," said Thurston County Auditor Kim Wyman, a Republican. "Some of these couples have been together for more than 20 or 30 years. It's pretty moving when you hear those stories."

Lisa Brodoff and Lynn Grotsky, partners of nearly 32 years, became the first same-sex couple in Thurston County, and perhaps the state, to receive a marriage license - to the cheers of a crowd of other same-sex couples and supporters.

"We have the greatest feeling of happiness and relief and excitement," said Brodoff, 57, a law professor at Seattle University.   Continued...

Jeri Andrews (L), 43, and Amy Andrews 33, hold up their marriage license in Seattle, Washington December 6, 2012. REUTERS/Marcus Donner