SEATTLE -- Seattle saw marriage equality come to life. At 12:01 am the King County Administrative building erupted into cheer as the doors opened for over 300 couples who had lined the cold streets for hours, waiting to be amongst the first to celebrate the historic moment.
Supporters, whether gay or straight, showed up to cheer the couples as they emerged from the building in the early morning hours, waving licenses, including some who had waited decades for this equal moment. Church choirs serenaded the patient couples waiting in line, offering hot coffee as well as chorus. Members of the public walked the line gifting loving couples with bottles of champagne, roses, chocolates and hand warmers. Seattle was warm this cold night and the rain held off to yield the love and support the State voters had ensured.
The first couple to received their license was Jane Abbott Lighty and Pete-e Petersen, from West Seattle. Jane and Pete-e have been together 35 years and live in West Seattle. They were featured in an R-71 ad. See their YouTube video below. They are co-founders of the Seattle Women’s Chorus. They will be getting married during the Seattle Men’s Chorus concert on Dec. 9 at 7:30 pm at Benaroya Hall. Pete-e is 85 years old. She was born in Manhattan but grew up in a small Alabama town with her grandmother. She served five years in the Air Force as air-evac flight nurse during the Korean War. Pete-e adopted her sister’s daughter at almost 3 years old. She and Jane are proud grandparents of two grown granddaughters. Jane is 77 years old. She was born in Fremont, Neb. but grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. She too was a nurse.
A large crowd gathered outside the building ,as a media frenzy and hundreds of supporters showed up to congratulate and cheer the couples with flashing cameras and screams as couple by couple left the building, after receiving their licenses on this historic day.
King County sets licensing record during Marriage Equality Day marathon
The historic ability of same-sex couples to acquire a marriage license in Washington has resulted in King County breaking its one-day record for license issuance in the first three and a half hours after the King County Recorder’s Office began issuing licenses at midnight Dec. 6. King County Executive Dow Constantine was still signing commemorative documents for all license purchasers at 4 am
At 3:30 a.m., King County broke its record for issuing marriage licenses in a single day, with 212. The County typically issues between 75 and 100 licenses per day. As of 4 a.m., 247 marriage licenses had been issued.
“I am so proud to be a part of this momentous occasion,” said Jon Scherer, Recording Manager for King County. “In only three and a half hours, we produced more marriage licenses than we ever have in a single day, and there’s still more to come. It’s important for us to deliver the same quality of service to all of our citizens, and now we truly can.”
The licenses issued by King County this morning were the first in the nation to be issued under a state law enacted directly by voters – and this morning’s event was big news across the country. In fact, the marriage equality hashtag, #MEDayWA, was the number-five trending topic on Twitter across the nation overnight. King County is tweeting status updates and information on @kcnews, www.twitter.com/kcnews.
King County is sharing photos from the event on its Facebook page. Couples are encouraged to share their photos there as well.
Executive Constantine told GAY U.S.A. the Movie that while signing the first licenses he used one of the pens used by Governor Christine Gregoire to sign the marriage equality bill into law on Feb. 13, soon after it had been approved by the Washington State Legislature. Opponents gathered petition signatures to block implementation of the law, but voters on Nov. 6 approved Referendum 74 to enact it. That vote was certified today by the Washington Secretary of State.
All the couples that are issued licenses today will have to wait until at least Sunday to make their marriage official, as Washington state requires a three-day waiting period.
The King County Recorder’s Office in downtown Seattle will stay open until 6:30 pm tonight to process marriage licenses for all couples. The office will reopen on Friday, Dec. 7 from 8:30 am to 6:30 pm, and 8:30 am to 4:30 pm on Saturday, Dec. 8.