First same-sex couples apply for marriage
EVERETT - Lynnwood couple Keith and Kevin Arnett and their neighbors Molly Lloyd-Wilson and Corine Schmidt were the first couples in line at 7:30 a.m. last Thursday to apply for marriage licenses.
The two couples were among almost a dozen same-sex couples who came to the Snohomish County auditor’s office registration desk in Everett to get married. By the end of the day, the auditor’s office reported 25 same-sex couples got marriage license applications Dec. 6. The first same-sex marriages took place Sunday, Dec. 9 after the state’s required three-day waiting period.
“It means we’re finally equal in the eyes of the law,” Keith Arnett, 61, said.
Kevin Arnett, 57, said he didn’t think either of them would see same-sex marriage legalized in their lifetimes. “I’m delighted.”
The Arnetts took their license, gave each other a kiss and Kevin held up the paperwork to a round of applause. The couple, who has been together for 12 years, married Dec. 9.
Snohomish County had a significantly smaller turnout than King and Thurston counties. In Seattle and Olympia, those cities began accepting applications at 12:01 a.m. Lines of couples wound around the buildings in both cities.
The Arnetts arrived an hour and a half early because they thought there would be a line; they were shocked to see there wasn’t one.
“We weren’t even trying” to be first, Kevin Arnett said.
State Rep. Marko Liias, D-Edmonds, was there early to greet each couple.
“It’s exciting because it’s always been about people,” Liias said.
“It’s a huge step forward nationally,” Liias later said, adding, “Some initiatives get buyer’s remorse (but) whether you voted for or against it, I don’t think anyone can” say same-sex marriages are a bad thing.
Liias, who is gay, said he’s not ready to tie the knot yet.
Schmidt said marriage equality will give the gay community more security. Schmidt came out as a lesbian in her 40s when homosexuality was slowly becoming less taboo.
“It will provide us more safety and protection,” Schmidt said.
Each couple paid $64 for a marriage license and must get married within 60 days before the license expires.
Rev. Rebecca Withington of the Everett United Church of Christ handed out red roses to the first dozen couples in line, both gay and straight.
Her congregation voted to support Referendum 74. The referendum put the state’s recently adopted law legalizing same-sex marriage up for a public vote. The public in November voted in favor of keeping the law on the books.
Withington, who runs a gay-friendly church on Rockefeller Avenue, said she has been preparing for same-sex weddings at her church since spring.
Scott DeMello and Gary Wells of Everett, who have been together 25 years, wanted to wait until the right time to get married.
“It’s taken way too long to get here,” DeMello said.
Nine states, plus the District of Columbia, have legalized same-sex marriage. Washington is one of the first states to uphold same-sex marriage equality through a public vote.
What about domestic partnerships?
Same-sex couples who are in domestic partnerships must convert them to marriages or dissolve the relationships by June 30, 2014 or the state will change the partnerships to marriages automatically. Senior couples, including same-sex senior couples, who are in a domestic partnership to protect their financial assets are excluded from the deadline. There are more than 9,000 domestic partnerships registered in this state, according to the Secretary of State’s Office. Domestic partnerships for same-sex couples were legalized in Washington in 2007.
People who have questions about the new law can call the auditor’s office at 425-388-3483. (An article last week listed the incorrect area code.)