About 20 couples joined them to tie the knot in ceremonies using one of eight officiants throughout the Rotunda on Saturday afternoon, with several couples standing up together, side by side, for a group wedding.
Intermittent rounds of applause could be heard over an hour and a half as more couples became legally joined. The range of ceremonies included a simple exchange of vows and an elaborate tribal wedding.
“It’s pure, unadulterated joy,” Guajardo, 43, said. “It’s like it is something you wanted for so long, and way back in the beginning we weren’t even sure we wanted it because we couldn’t have it.”
They stood in line to be among the first to be wed at the Multnomah County Courthouse in Oregon in March 2004 during the brief time same-sex marriage was legal in Portland. After exchanging vows in the street in front of a local pub, the couple later were told their marriage was invalid.
“It’s kind of weird to be told your marriage doesn’t count,” Roose, 68, said.
Their original marriage certificate hangs on the wall at their home next to their domestic-partnership documentation. Those now will be joined by a license issued by the State of Washington.
Four months after their invalidated wedding, the couple exchanged vows again during a commitment ceremony in front of family members and friends. Guajardo wore the same dress she wore in 2004 to Saturday’s ceremony, only instead dyed the ivory-colored dress purple to match Roose’s velvet dress.
The other couples watched, sitting next to each other holding hands along the steps or standing along the balconies to watch the first wedding of the afternoon.
“I am fulfilling a longtime dream with the person I chose … to become legal partners, legal spouses,” Roose told Guajardo. “Never in my lifetime did I think I could marry the person I love.”
That feeling was shared by many of the couples Saturday.
Dennis Godwin, 65, and Rick Johnson, 55, of Olympia have been together for 19 years. They wore matching black tuxedos and white ties.
The couple had a commitment ceremony in 1994 but are happy they are now legally married and can avoid legal issues involving home ownership and medical care.
“I now pronounce you spouse and spouse,” said an officiant over the crowd. “You may seal it with a kiss.”
While they feel accepted in their home state, Godwin said he isn’t holding his breath to have his new marriage recognized at the national level.
“I don’t know if I will live that long,” he said.
Kelley Miller, 27, and new wife Lindsey Miller, 28, of Port Orchard, met in Japan and found out about the group wedding Saturday after reading an article in a local newspaper.
Lindsey was stationed with the Navy in Japan and Kelley was a civilian when they began dating in 2010. Lindsey was wearing her Navy dress uniform, while Kelley was in a strapless, floor-length wedding gown.
The well-dressed couple attracted stares as they had their pictures taken throughout the building.
“I’m excited taking the next step and can finally claim her as my dependent,” said Lindsey, who is still active-duty military. “I can take her with me.”
The photographers, officiants, flower arrangements and cakes were provided at no cost. The rest of the rental fees were covered by Roose and Guajardo, who also received donations from those in attendance.
“The community really stepped up,” Roose said. “People who could never have had such a spectacular wedding, and they get to have it. We have said it before: We want to share their joy.”