Cheers erupted followed by a unison “I do” after marriage licenses were authorized to 16 same-sex coupes in Olympia shortly after midnight Thursday.
The couples were among the first legally entitled to wed in Washington state, thanks to voter passage of Referendum 74 on Nov. 6.
Thurston County Auditor and Secretary of State-elect Kim Wyman timed the event at 12:01 a.m. to be on par with a similar event that drew hundreds of applicants to King County.
Staff in the Auditor’s Office planned for as many as 250 marriage certificates throughout Thursday. By 2:30 p.m., the office had issued 33 marriage licenses, 30 to same-sex couples.
“We … wanted to make sure we had a cohesive plan in place,” said Heather Hirotaka, licensing and recording manager. “We planned for quite a few, and it was pretty apparent by 8:15 a.m. that we wouldn’t see those crowds.”
For the couples who did apply for certificates, the day was monumental.
The first couple to actually get paperwork were Lisa Brodoff and Lynn Grotsky.
“It almost feels like we are in a fantasy,” said Brodoff. “I almost feel like I could wake up from a dream. So it’s a dream come true.”
Thurston County Superior Court Judge Chris Wickham and at least two other judges are expected to be available Sunday at the courthouse to perform wedding ceremonies.
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, plan to wed Sunday during 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.’’
Gregory Woore and William Herzog of Lacey married in San Francisco in 2008.
The first thing Herzog did Thursday morning was go to the Secretary of State’s Office to register their marriage license with the state.
“It’s a relief now that we are married, we are recognized and don’t have to worry,” Herzog said. “We are actual members of society. It’s no longer a stigma.”
Herzog said he wouldn’t go as far to say he and Woore’s relationship is “accepted, because there are people who will never accept us, but we now know we are legal … we are no longer second-class citizens.”
The couple will celebrate their fifth wedding anniversary in June.