On the first day they could legally marry, hundreds of same sex couples in Washington tied the knot. Same sex couples are now able to marry after the state’s voter approved gay marriage law took effect Sunday at 12:01am.
With more than 600 same sex marriage licenses issued in Kings County by Saturday, some courthouses opened right at midnight and started marrying couples.
The largest public event included 140 couples who got married at Seattle’s City Hall, where the city had set up five separate chapels. The weddings were punctuated by cheers and applause by dozens of supporters, undaunted by the steady rain.
Washington, Maine and Maryland became the first states to pass same-sex marriage by popular vote last month, joining New York, Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and the District of Columbia.
Couples who had previously married in another state will not have to re-marry; the state will now recognize the marriage as valid as soon as the law takes effect. There is no waiting period in Maine where couples can start marrying on December 29 just after midnight, but Maryland’s law will not take effect until January 1.
Married same sex couples will still be denied health insurance, government benefits and federal pensions because the 1996 federal Defense of Marriage Act, otherwise known as DOMA, denies federal recognition of gay unions.
SCOTUS is expected to take up challenges to the federal benefit provision of DOMA and California’s Proposition 8 sometime this term.