Thursday, December 06, 2012

O Happy Day

"Love made history in Seattle [today]," write Joel Connelly and Casey McNerthney in their article, "Same-Sex Marriage Makes History."

Yes, today was the first day that same-sex couples in Washington State could obtain marriage licenses after the State Legislature passed a marriage equality law earlier this year which voters approved on November 6.

Pictured at right is the Catholic governor of Washington, Chris Gregoire, signing Referendum 74, the citizen-passed measure that legalizes same-sex marriage in the state. Gregoire and Secretary of State Sam Reed (also pictured at right) both signed the document on Wednesday, December 5, 2012. Since marriage licenses have a three day waiting period in Washington, it won't be until this Sunday, December 9, that gay marriages can begin to take place.

Following are excerpts from Connelly and McNerthney's article, accompanied by a number of beautiful images from this historic day.

In the predawn darkness 300 couples got licenses that will allow them to marry their same-sex partner.

The event began at 12:01 a.m. as men and women stood in line to take advantage of the marriage law that the Legislature passed early this year and voters approved in November.

They formed an eager, festive crowd, with couples young and old braving a night-time chill and wee-hours wait for the chance to make history at the normally dull King County Administration building. Supporters cheered for them with roses, coffee, hand-warmers and serenades of "Going to the Chapel."

The licensing marathon was expected to last more than 18 hours. Just after 1 p.m., more than 400 licenses had been issued.

"Marriage should be a happy time, and it's a happy night," said State Sen. Ed Murray, D-Wash., who was among the crowd with his partner, Michael Shiosaki. Murray was the chief sponsor of the marriage equality legislation passed by the Legislature last February.

Exactly one month has passed since Washington voted – and King County voted overwhelmingly – in favor of same-sex marriage through Referendum 74.

Above: James (left) and Paul have been together 40 years and were the first same-sex couple to receive a marriage license in Clark County, Washington today. (Image: Seattle Times)

Above: Parents Amanda Beane and Anne Bryson-Beane wait to get a marriage license with their seven children at the King County Administration Building before midnight on Wednesday, December 5, 2012. (Photo: Joshua Trujillo/

Amanda Beane and Anne Bryson-Beane, who have seven adopted kids, also picked up a marriage license, after being together for 15 years. They will be married at their home parish, Faith Luthern Church, on Jan. 26, 2013.

"Each of our adopted children understands that you can call someone family all you want, but until the court says it's forever, you are not seen as a 'real' family: When I marry my wife, for the first time our family will be seen by everyone for what we are – a forever family," said Anne Bryson-Beane.

Above: Junia Ribeiro, left, and her partner Patty Oh are greeted as the walk out of the King County Administration Building with their marriage license on Thursday, December 6, 2012. (Photo: Joshua Trujillo/

Above: Kelly Middleton, 24, and her partner Amanda Dollente, 29, embrace after they received their marriage license at the King County Administration Building on Thursday, December 6, 2012. (Photo: Joshua Trujillo/

Above: Jane Abbott Lightly and her partner Pete-e Petersen, right, celebrate as King County Executive Dow Constantine signs their marriage license at the King County Administration Building on shortly after midnight on Thursday, December 6, 2012. (Photo: Joshua Trujillo/

Jane Abbott Lighty and Pete-e Petersen, a West Seattle couple of 35 years, were the first couple to get a license, after waiting decades to get married. As the clock struck midnight, a crowd led by King County Executive Dow Constantine clapped and cheered, and Lighty, 77, and Petersen, 85, raised their hands to take an oath.

"People who have been waiting all these years to have their rights recognized should not have to wait one minute longer," said Constantine, who stayed up into the wee hours to issue the county's first marriage licenses.

"To have our 35-year loving relationship publicly honored and celebrated and have this be a legal marriage means everything to both of us," said Lighty, a former nurse. She and Petersen, a former Korean War flight nurse, will be wed at a Seattle Men's Chorus concert at Benaroya Hall this weekend.

Above: Couples, including columnist Dan Savage and his partner Terry Miller, right, wait in line for their marriage licenses at the King County Administration Building on Thursday, December 6, 2012. Savage is a prominent gay rights activist. (Photo: Joshua Trujillo/

Nationally known sex-advice columnst Dan Savage and his partner were also among the first couples to pick up a marriage license.

"It's really a remarkable journey we've been on and such a remarkable sea change," he said. "And not just for gay people, but straight people have changed, too. It's gotten better for us because straight people have gotten better about us."

Above: Amy Andrews, right, smiles as she wears a veil while standing in line with her partner Jeri Andrews. (Photo: AP/SL)

Above: Larry Duncan, 56, and Randy Shepherd, 48, as they apply for a marriage license in the King County Administration Building. (Photo: Meryl Schenker)

About this particular image, Joshua Trujillo writes:

Originally from Dallas, Texas, they told Schenker they moved to Washington 7 years ago because it was more gay friendly.

The soft-spoken couple from North Bend, who have been together for 11 years, finally reached the front of the line about 1:30 a.m. As they took an oath in front of a representative of King County, Schenker captured the simple moment with a master’s eye. She said that as part of documenting the event, she was looking for a picture that would challenge stereotypes.

When told today that the photo was being shared on social media and starting to appear on national blogs, they both laughed. “That’s just who we are,” said Shepherd.

12/9/12 UPDATES:
Washington Gay Marriage Law Takes Effect – Rachel La Corte (HuffPost Gay Voices, December 9, 2012).
On Being Witness to Extraordinary History – Gov. Chris Gregoire (HuffPost Gay Voices, December 9, 2012).

Related Off-site Links:
Washington Same-Sex Marriage Measure Signed Into Law By Chris Gregoire – Rachel La Corte (Huffington Post, December 5, 2012).
Dozens Line Up for Gay Marriage (December 5, 2012).
Gregoire Shares 'Personal Journey' to Supporting Same-Sex Marriage – Joel Connelly (, January 6, 2012).
New Polls Highlight Catholic, National Support for Marriage Equality – Sunnivie Brydum (The Advocate, December 6, 2012).
The Major Gay Marriage Cases Facing the Supreme Court Friday – Liz Goodwin (Yahoo!, December 6, 2012).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Something to Celebrate
Marriage: "Part of What is Best in Human Nature"
The Same People
The Changing Face of "Traditional Marriage"
Dr. Erik Steele and the "Naked Truth on Same-Sex Marriage"
Jim David on the "Actual Benefits of Same-Sex Marriage"
Steve Chapman: "Time is On the Side of Gay Marriage"
The Longing for Love: God's Primal Beatitude
It Is Not Good to Be Alone
A Pediatric Physician's Helpful Perspective on Same-Sex Parenting

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