Wedding bells rang throughout Washington state Sunday as hundreds of same-sex couples said “I do”. Sunday was the first day gay couples could legally marry here. This comes after voters upheld the state’s marriage equality law in last month’s election.
Seattle City Hall hosted a flurry of weddings for about 140 couples Sunday.
Seattle couple Danielle Yung and Robin Wyss entered City Hall holding hands, and in matching white tuxedos. They waited for their ceremony to start with about a dozen friends. Many were at their commitment ceremony five years ago.
This one is our “shotgun wedding”, Yung jokes. She’s five months pregnant.
Yung: “The baby was squirming all around this morning. I think maybe she knew that something was going on.”
Yung says she’s thrilled they’ll be able to have this baby as a legally married couple. This wedding day is something she once believed would never be possible.
Yung: "When I came out when I was 14, one of the things that was hardest for me at that time was just this feeling that I’d never be able to get married. I had this kind of regret and sadness about that because at that time I could never imagine that this would happen and 18 years later, here we are. It’s just so fabulous.”
The wedding party is soon escorted away to one of the five stages set up for ceremonies.
A local judge meets privately with Wyss and Yung to go over their vows, then it’s time.
Judge: “Do you take Robin Diane Wyss from this day forward to be your lawful wedded partner? Please put ring on Danielle’s finger.”
That cheering is from another wedding across the room. The city is running ceremonies back-to-back, five at a time, all day long.
Judge: “By the powers invested in me under the laws of the state of Washington, I now pronounce you married. You may kiss.”
Friends hug and pass around tissues, then everyone heads to a reception area. Wyss is beaming.
Wyss: “It was more emotional than I thought it would be. It’s an important day for us. Kind of story we’ll be able to tell our grand-kids.”
This is also a second “wedding” for Seattle couple Corianton Hale and Keith Bacon. After their ceremony this summer, Hale says he did notice a change.
Hale: “It surprised me how much we just kind of locked in to a deeper understanding of one another. It sounds silly that doing the vows changed things but it really did."
He expects this “official” marriage will reinforce that even more.
As each ceremony wraps up, Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn greets many of the couples.He says he jumped at the chance for city hall to be a backdrop for this historic day.
McGinn: “It just says that city stands behind these couples, stands behind this right. And it’s also just a message to the rest of the country.”
His wife, Peggy, is at his side. Her eyes are red and wet with tears.
Peggy McGinn: “I just feel like people waiting a long time and it means so much to them. And it’s ridiculous, why we made them wait so long – I have no idea. I’m just happy for them.”
Announcer: “Join me in congratulating Mr. and Mr. Liam and Richard …”
Outside city hall, each couple is announced before they walk down a grand staircase…about a half a block long.
A huge crowd spills out from the plaza, along the stairs and into the street. Strangers give out flowers, toss rice and shout for the newlyweds to kiss.
Man: “Give us a married kiss!”
Some people came from as far as Vancouver, B.C. Many don’t even know any of the couples. But they wanted to be here to show their support, like Seattle resident Ellen Daffron.
Daffron: “I wanted to part of this celebration, and I wanted to be witness to the front-edge of history being made and to our state.”
Robin Wyss, Danielle Yung and their baby-on-the-way make the long exit down the stairs. They’re overwhelmed with the turnout.
Wyss: “It’s silly but I was like, oh, it’s a royal wedding.”
Yung: “So many people here. All the flowers, screaming, people driving by honking their horns. It’s great fun.”
Copyright 2012 Northwest Public Radio