The couples are among the first legally entitled to wed in Washington state, thanks for voter passage of Referendum 74 on Nov. 6. Several couples plan Sunday weddings, the first day the new law allows, after Gov. Chris Gregoire and Secretary of State Sam Reed certified the election results on R-74 in an afternoon ceremony in Gregoire's conference room Wednesday.
Wyman, who is secretary of state-elect, timed the event at 12:01 to be on par with a similar event that drew hundreds of applicants in King County. She said Thurston County Superior Court Judge Chris Wickham and at least two other judges are expecting to be available Sunday at the courthouse to perform weddings.
A full gallery of photos from Tony Overman of The Olympian is here.
"It almost feels like we're in a fantasy," said Brodoff, a law school professor from Lacey, who also had attended the event with Reed and Gregoire earlier in the day where she saw a rainbow flag on display. "I almost feel like I could wake up from a dream. So it's a dream come true.''
Leslie Cushman and Jody Smith said they plan to wed Sunday after 23 years together. "At mightnight the law changed. It wasn't legal one second. It was legal the next. It was profound.''
Two men also planning a Sunday wedding were reluctant to identify themselves publicly, but one man said: "I think it's amazing. It's an amazing step for our state.''
Another couple planning a Sunday wedding are the Rev. Carol McKinley, coordinator of the Washington State Unitarian Universalist Voices for Justice group, and Barbara Gibson, who had had a civil commitment ritual in 2001. They plan a small ceremony in their living room where Rev. Arthur Vaeni of the Olympia Unitarian Universalist Church and Pastor Kathleen Peppard plan to officiate.
Unlike friends who had gone to Canada and briefly to Oregon to wed when that option was available, McKinley said, "we wanted to marry in our state. I just knew it would happen. I didn't expect it this year. ... The significance to me personally is having the state recognition - the governmental recognition - of all the relationships represented here tonight.''
Gibson said it was about a community supporting relationships, which she called "very moving."
Wyman's office is going to reopen at 7 a.m. today and Friday, keeping extended hours both days to handle any flood of people coming in for licenses. The Auditor's Office will stay open until 6 p.m. today and until 5 Friday.
Among those likely to return are Tierrah Lyman and Breanna Grinager of Tacoma, who had heard about the midnight event and wanted to get a license - not realizing Wyman had set up the event for those couples that asked earlier to be in the first-chance pool of applicants.
"I am happy I get to witness the first (16) people. ... I'm happy it's finally legal," Lyman said.
The historic nature of the event drew a few speeches. Longtime rights activist Anna Schlecht remembered a time when gays had trouble renting rooms for meetings and when "we had to pay money to lawyers to get custody of our children.'' She noted many gay figures in the South Sound community, including the late Tumwater councilman Ed Stanley, had died before seeing this happen.
Wyman, a Republican, and Democratic county commissioner Karen Valenzuela also spoke, with the latter calling it a "happy day.'' Olympia mayor pro tem Nathaniel Jones looked on from the back of the room, saying: "I just want to honor what these folks are doing.''