The same sex marriage took effect in Washington on Thursday and officials geared up for marriage license applications for gays or lesbians that are ready 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.
Grotsky, a 56-year-old 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.”
The pair, who hugged and kissed after getting their license, could have tied the knot in one of the six states where same-sex marriage was already legal, but wanted to wait until they could marry in their home state.