SEATTLE – Same-sex couples in Washington state began reciting wedding vows at events across the state Sunday, on the first day they could marry after the state’s gay marriage law took effect.
About 140 couples had registered to marry at Seattle City Hall, which had set up five separate chapels to accommodate the revelers.
Starting at 10 a.m., cheers and applause regularly broke out as another couple’s marriage became official. Weddings at city hall were to continue through 5 p.m.
Mayor Mike McGinn, who greeted couples at they arrived, called it a “great day, a joyous day.”
“It’s really wonderful,” he said. “A new civil right is going to be recognized in this great civil institution.”
Keith Bacon and Corianton Hale of Seattle, who celebrated their six-year anniversary the night before, hugged and kissed to loud cheers and camera flashes as they took their vows before one of the 16 local judges who volunteered to officiate the weddings on Sunday.
“We’re totally thrilled,” Bacon said.
The couple had done a commitment ceremony in August but said this day was particularly special.
“We had looked at this as maybe a day we would sign a piece of paper and seal the deal, and instead we’re having this huge party being thrown in our honor,” Bacon said. “It’s just mind blowing.”
Nancy Monahan, 57, a retired petty officer with the Coast Guard, waited outside before the weddings began with her partner of 14 years, Deb Needham, 48.
Monahan was wearing her uniform, and Needham was wearing an ivory dress and jacket and matching hat. They said they wanted to join the large wedding event at city hall because of the significance of the day.
“It’s not very private, but very historic,” Needham said, to which Monahan added, “And very awesome.”
Some courthouses, including in King and Thurston Counties, opened right at midnight, and started marrying couples.
Hundreds of gay and lesbian couples picked up their marriage licenses as early as 12:01 a.m. Thursday, but because of the state’s three-day waiting period, the earliest weddings could take place was just after midnight, early Sunday morning.
In King County, home to Seattle, more than 600 same-sex marriage licenses were issued by Saturday.