SEATTLE (AP) — Keith Bacon and Corianton Hale wore dress shirts as they recited their vows at Seattle City Hall, as the city hosted more than 100 weddings on the first day same-sex couples could marry in Washington state.
A few hours later Sunday, the happy couple had changed into matching t-shirts that read "Looks Like We Made It."
"It's tremendously meaningful," Hale said. "It's really powerful to have the official approval and exact same rights as all of our heterosexual friends."
For Bacon and Hale, and the scores of other gay and lesbian couples that chose to marry in a very public venue, they said they wanted to share with others the significance of the day.
"It's not very private, but very historic," said Deb Needham of Renton, who married her partner of 14 years, Nancy Monahan.
Last month, Washington, Maine and Maryland became the first states to pass same-sex marriage by popular vote. They joined six other states — New York, Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont — and the District of Columbia that had already enacted laws or issued court rulings permitting same-sex marriage.
Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire and Secretary of State Sam Reed certified the election results of Referendum 74 on Wednesday afternoon, and the law took effect at 12:01 a.m. Thursday. Same-sex couples who previously were married in another state that allows gay marriage, like Massachusetts, will not have to get remarried in Washington state. Their marriages became valid here as soon as the law took effect.
The referendum had asked voters to either approve or reject the state law legalizing same-sex marriage that legislators passed earlier this year. That law was signed by Gregoire in February but was put on hold pending the outcome of the election. Nearly 54 percent of voters approved the measure.
Hundreds of gay and lesbian couples picked up their marriage licenses as early as 12:01 a.m. Thursday, but because of the state's three-day waiting period, the earliest weddings could take place was just after midnight, early Sunday morning. In King County, home to Seattle, more than 600 same-sex marriage licenses were issued by Saturday.