Same-sex couples around the Seattle area celebrated Wednesday’s historic ruling from the US Supreme Court that struck down some bans on gay marriage. The ruling spurred some couples to think about making wedding plans, now that they would receive new federal benefits. Others were inspired to apply for a marriage license, or even get married on the historic day. For many, Wednesday started out as a day of anticipation and anxiety and ended as a day of elation.
At the office of the Seattle-based advocacy group, Legal Voice, three staffers arrived at work shortly after 6:00 a.m. The group has been instrumental in the effort to fight for marriage equality. In 2004, then King County Executive Ron Sims asked Legal Voice to find couples willing to sue the county, in an effort to jumpstart a legal challenge against the state’s ban on gay marriage. They ended up losing the case but won the cause, after Washington voters approved R-74 in 2012.
As soon as the US Supreme Court ruling came down, the staff quickly parsed through the scores of pages of the decision. Once they read the ruling, Development Director Michelle Johnson said they started celebrating.
“We were screaming and high-fiving,” she said. For Johnson the ruling has a personal meaning. She and her longtime girlfriend now plan to get married. Staff attorney David Ward said he was now eager to marry his partner of 10 years.
King County Recorder's Office
At the King County Recorder's Office, a few couples lined up in the early afternoon to sign up for marriage licenses. The historic ruling inspired Lisa Gilmore and Larysa Slobodian to fill out the paperwork. They woke up at 3:00 a.m. out of anxiety, fearing the high court would allow DOMA to stand. Instead, the opposite happened and Gilmore said they were relieved. “We’ve been anxiously awaiting the ruling for so long, that it’s a mixed bag of shock and excitement. It’s hard to concentrate on very much else today, frankly,” she said.
Becky Shaw and Janet Saul, arrived in Seattle on Tuesday to visit family. They live in Georgia, a state that does not permit same-sex marriage and they were anxious to get formally married. Unlike Gilmore and Slobodian, they were in line to pick up their marriage license, having applied for it last Friday. Saul said she was excited about being wed just hours after picking up their license.
“We have a 9-year-old daughter and I just remember the day when she realized that we weren’t, when it clicked with her that we weren’t, legally married. She actually started to cry. And it’s exciting but it’s also really emotional,” Saul said.
The 12th floor rooftop deck of the Seattle Municipal Court building is a picturesque setting. It offers clear views of the Olympic Peninsula, Elliot Bay and the downtown skyline. It can also be a romantic place to get married. Shaw and Saul invited a few friends and family members to witness their vows high above the city streets, as they read to each other in front of Municipal Court Judge Judith Hightower. With a big smile, Hightower declared “by the power vested in me, finally, under the laws of the Washington, I now pronounce you married. You may seal your vows with a kiss.”