Sarah and Emily Cofer hug Superior Court Judge Mary Yu
Hundreds of well-wishers braved a damp and chilly Seattle morning to celebrate the first of 140 weddings at City Hall on Sunday, marking the first day that same-sex couples can marry in Washington state.
Washington, Maine and Maryland last month became the first U.S. states to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples by a popular vote, in a leap forward for gay rights.
“It means that I can use the word husband without question or explaining,” said Corianton Hale, a 34-year-old graphic designer, who was one of the first to tie the knot at City Hall. He married freelance copywriter Keith Bacon, 44.
“We originally registered to come down here to get married at City Hall because we thought we’d just get in and get out,” said Bacon. “It ended up being this incredible experience.”
About 300 people waited outside City Hall in frigid temperatures, cheering couples as they descended the steps to street level, some throwing rice, blowing bubbles and handing flowers to the newlyweds.
The first of the ceremonies – which are scheduled to go on all day – were watched by Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn, a same-sex marriage supporter.
“What a wonderful thing to be able to support the commitment of these couples to each other and to herald the beginning of a new civil right,” McGinn told Reuters inside City Hall.
Hours earlier, as midnight chimed, the first couples were married at a state court ceremony, starting with public elementary school teachers Sarah and Emily Cofer.
“We’re so proud to live in this state that recognizes love and commitment,” said Sarah Cofer, 31, after she and Emily Cofer, 32, uttered the words “I will” before judge Mary Yu at Seattle’s King County Courthouse.
The Cofers’ union was the state’s first same-sex wedding. Cameras clicked, observers clapped and their 9-month-old daughter Carter – born to one of the pair and adopted by the other – cried.
The couple said they would head home and put Carter to bed.
They were followed by 11 other couples who took their vows at 30-minute intervals through the night in Yu’s 9th-floor courtroom decorated with poinsettia.
Bravo! Wonder how long it will take the rest of the country to catch up – and which state will be last to join the 21st Century?