First marriage licenses issued to same-sex couples in Washington

Dec 6, 2012

In King County, the first marriage license to a same-sex couple was issued at exactly 12:01 a.m. on Thursday.

People cheered as King County Executive Dow Constantine counted down and  declared, "Happy Marriage Equality Day."

By 4:00 a.m., King County had broken its record for issuing marriage licenses in a single day. More than 247 had been issued.

Teri Bednarski and Saracristina Garcia, from Tacoma, were two of the first to receive licenses.  Afterwards, fighting back tears, Bednarski said it was an emotional moment.

"For me, it's what it sets for our children.  We're setting a precedent for them that they can be free to choose and I that that, for me, is the biggest thing," she said.

Asked why it was so important to be on hand at exactly 12:01, Jeremy Whiting said, "I'm a former Mormon boy from Utah, I've come a long way to be here and I don't want to wait another second."

Whiting was at the King County Record's Office with his boyfriend of 11 years, Joel Butler. 

"We can finally acknowledge publicly, we don't have to use the word boyfriend or partner, we can go for husband or spouse and it just feels better to describe our relationship," he said.

The first license was issued to a couple that's been together for more than three decades, 85 year old Pete-e Petersen and Jane Abbott Lighty, 77, of West Seattle. Pete-e said she thought the day would never come when she could marry her partner. "It feels unreal," she said.