There are probably some excited conversations happening around Capitol Hill right now. And a few awkward ones, too. The King County Recorder’s Office is gearing up for the first hours of legalized same-sex marriage in Washington State with a special midnight opening on December 6 — the day the November election results will be officially certified and the approval of referendum 74 will take effect allowing same-sex couples to apply for a marriage license. UPDATE: And the city says it is ready to make the first day of gay nuptials in Seattle a special one by turning City Hall into one big wedding chapel for what is expected to be a surge of enthusiasm couples who want to tie the knot the very first day possible.
It’s likely to be a media frenzy. And, hopefully, there will be a lot of fun and a lot of love. As we noted in our guide to what happens with the approval of R74, you’ll also want to clear your calendar for December 9th:
The third calendar day after you pick up your marriage license, you can get married by a Washington State judge (see Related Links), or by an ordained minister or priest, presuming their institution permits it. The earliest gay marriages, then, in Washington should take place on December 9, 2012.
The City of Seattle will be ready:
Aaron Pickus, a spokesman for Mayor Mike McGinn, said Friday that eight municipal judges are donating their time to marry couples between noon and 5 p.m. on Dec. 9, three days after Referendum 74 takes effect.
Capitol Hill’s The Stranger, like a proud parent, announced it is ponying up money to help pay for the special ceremonies:
Judges have volunteered to perform weddings for free and the Stranger is working with Jennifer Zeyl and Alicia Berger and other local scenic artists to create fourtasteful and dignified pop-up wedding “chapels” in the lobby of City Hall. There won’t be anything silly or camp or ironic about the pop-up chapel instillations. The doors at City Hall will open at 11 AM on December 9 and any couple who comes with their paperwork will be able to get married at City Hall between noon and 5 PM.
The Stranger is kicking in $2000 to help pay for materials and Stranger staff members—many of whom worked phone banks for R-74—are volunteering their time to help pull this together. This isn’t about staging a Moonie-style mass wedding, but creating a beautiful spot for couples who wish to marry on that first day. We’re going to need more volunteers to help out at City Hall on December 9 and we’re looking for donations of refreshments for people waiting in line. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to volunteer or make a donation.
Meanwhile, the first of many expected reception parties has been announced:
Dan Savage of the Seattle Stranger along with husband Terry Hecker (DJ Trouble) and Q Nightclub will be hosting The Big Gay Wedding Reception™ at Q following the nuptials.
The reception will be open to everyone who got married, their friends and families, and all the supporters of Referendum 74 as a thank you for their efforts on behalf of civil rights in Washington.
You had better get those engagement photos scheduled ASAP. Save 74% here.
Here’s the announcement from King County. Don’t forget to bring $64 — cash or “local check,” the county says, no credit/debit cards.
King County Executive Dow Constantine will open the County Recorder’s Office at 12:01 a.m. on Thursday, Dec. 6 – immediately upon certification of the November election – to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
“I don’t want couples to wait a minute longer than legally necessary to get the rights that voters have recognized,” said Executive Constantine, who will personally sign the first marriage licenses at 12:01 a.m.
The move will make King County the first jurisdiction in the nation to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples based on voter approval. Voters in Washington, Maryland, and Maine all approved marriage equality initiatives on Election Day last week, but the laws in Maryland and Maine will not take effect until January. Under state law couples must wait three days before the actual marriage ceremony may be performed.
The Recorder’s Office is located in the King County Administration Building at 500 Fourth Avenue in Seattle. Couples may start lining up at the James Street entrance (on the north plaza of the Administration Building) at 10:00 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 5. An official queuing area will be designated on the plaza. For people with mobility issues, an accessible entrance will be available on Fourth Avenue, and individuals will be directed to the plaza.
Couples will be served on a first-come, first-served basis. As previously announced, the Recorder’s Office will remain open on Dec. 6 until 6:30 p.m. to meet expected demand. All couples within the official queuing area at 4:30 p.m. will be served.
On Friday, Dec. 7, the office will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Couples will be able to line up starting at 6:30 a.m. All couples within the official queuing area at 4:30 p.m. will be served.
On Saturday, Dec. 8, the Recorder’s Office will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The lineup will begin at 6:30 a.m., and all couples within the official queuing area at 2:30 p.m. will be served.
All couples, regardless of gender, seeking a marriage license on these three days will need to wait in line. To help reduce delays, couples are encouraged to download a marriage license application from www.kingcounty.gov/marriage and bring the completed form with them when they apply.