A month after Washington voters approved the freedom to marry for gay and lesbian couples, same-sex couples in Washington state will be able to apply for marriage licenses.
The Pierce County Auditor’s Office will open at 6:30 a.m. on Thursday for this historic moment, the filing of marriage licenses for gay couples. Thursday is the first day the law is enacted.
Washingtonians approved Referendum 74 on Election Day by a margin of 7.4 percent and voters in Maine, Minnesota and Maryland, states where marriage equality was also on the ballot, all voted in favor of marriage equality for same-sex couples.
“We have been having a long conversation about our families and our lives with lawmakers and voters in Washington State,” said State Representative Laurie Jinkins, one of the lead authors of the freedom to marry legislation in the state legislature. “I’m thrilled that all committed and loving couples who choose to marry can now do that. It’s going to make thousands of families stronger and I’m overjoyed this day has come in Washington.”
Tacomans John McCluskey and Rudy Henry have been together for 53 years. Due to Rudy’s ill health, they will take a “cabulance” to make sure they are the first in line at the Pierce County Auditor’s Office as soon as the doors open at 6:30 a.m.
“Long ago, I felt sad to think that, unlike my siblings, I would never experience marriage,” said McCluskey, long-time Tacoma civil rights advocate, age 76. “Although we kind of felt married after half a century, it doesn’t compare to the joy we feel at finally having our relationship acknowledged by our community. My parents must be looking down and high-fiving.”
McCluskey and his soon to be husband, Henry will be wed at a ceremony produced by close friends and community members on Saturday at First United Methodist Church. Everything from the invitations to the food and music have been organized by their friends so that the couple can have the wedding they always dreamed about. After Henry suffered a stroke a couple of years ago and then had other health problems, it became even more important to them that they publicly acknowledge their lifelong commitment, sharing the joy that comes with making that commitment before friends and family.
Another Tacoma couple, Heather Kawamoto and Kay Lancaster will be the second couple in line early Thursday morning to secure their marriage license. They will marry after the mandatory three-day waiting period on Sunday at the Primo Grill reception space in central Tacoma.
“My partner and I getting married is our 9-year-old daughter's dream, to have her two moms marry, and I'm thrilled to not only make her dream come true, but mine as well! Marriage is about love, commitment, and family, and it's my honor to legally commit to and marry the love of my life and continue to instill these core values in our family,” said Kawamoto, who worked countless hours on the phone and knocking on doors to tell her story to voters in Tacoma during Referendum 74.