Washington state readies for same-sex marriage

Thu Dec 6, 2012 8:15pm EST
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By Jonathan Kaminsky

OLYMPIA, Washington (Reuters) - A landmark law legalizing same-sex matrimony took effect in Washington state on Thursday as gay and lesbian couples lined up at government offices to obtain marriage licenses, paving the way for them to exchange vows as soon as this weekend.

Washington, Maine and Maryland became the first three U.S. states to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples by popular vote, with passage of ballot initiatives on November 6.

Washington was the first to hand out marriage license applications to gay and lesbian couples, starting at 12:01 a.m. on Thursday. Maine and Maryland's laws take effect on December 29 and on January 1, respectively.

But the earliest same-sex Washington weddings - expected to number in the hundreds - will not take place before Sunday because of a state requirement that all couples submit their licenses three days in advance.

In Olympia, the state capital, Lisa Brodoff and Lynn Grotsky, partners of nearly 32 years, became the first same-sex couple in their county, and perhaps the state, to receive a marriage license on Thursday - to the cheers of a crowd of other gay and lesbian couples and supporters.

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

Grotsky, 56, a social worker, said that when she and Brodoff became a couple, they were afraid to tell acquaintances and co-workers that they were lesbians.

"Everything was a fight and a conflict," Grotsky said. "Now it's like we're regular people."   Continued...

Junia Ribeiro (L), 51, and Patty Oh, 43, celebrate as they leave the King County Administration Building shortly after getting their marriage license in Seattle, Washington December 6, 2012. REUTERS/Marcus Donner