King, Thurston counties to provide same-sex marriage licenses in early morning

OLYMPIA — Ten same-sex couples were selected in a lottery Monday to receive some of the first licenses issued under the new Washington state law allowing gay marriage.

Thurston County Auditor Kim Wyman held the lottery involving 15 couples that sought to receive their license at 12:01 a.m. Thursday.

King County also plans to start issuing licenses at that time but did not stage a lottery. Couples there will begin lining up at 10 p.m. Wednesday, and the county will issue licenses from 12:01 a.m. until 6:30 p.m.

Thurston County will close its office after the first 10 licenses are issued at 12:01 a.m. but will reopen for extended hours from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Thursday.

“This is a historic event in Washington,” Wyman said. “We’re very excited and we want to commemorate that event, and we look forward to giving all of these couples a license.”

Last month, 54 percent of voters approved Referendum 74 regarding a state law passed by legislators earlier this year that legalized same-sex marriage. The law had been signed by Gov. Chris Gregoire but was on hold pending the outcome of the referendum.

Secretary of State Sam Reed will officially certify the election, and Gregoire will again sign same-sex marriage into law at a ceremony on Wednesday in Olympia.

The law doesn’t actually take effect until Thursday, when gay and lesbian couples can start picking up their wedding certificates and licenses. Because the state has a three-day waiting period, the earliest that marriage certificates could be signed at a wedding or ceremony is Sunday.

Lynn Grotsky and Lisa Brodoff of Lacey were the first couple selected in the Thurston County lottery.

Grotsky, 56, said that she and Brodoff, 57, have been together for 31 years and wanted to get their license as soon as possible. They will have a civil ceremony on Dec. 23 but are planning a bigger ceremony for the end of July.

Grotsky said the couple’s 25-year-old daughter plans to go to pick up their license with them Thursday, and they plan to include their 22-year-old son, who lives in San Francisco, via videoconference.

“We’re just thrilled,” she said. “It just feels incredible, it’s such a relief and such a celebration and a sense of, finally, we can just be ourselves.”

Washington is now one of nine states that have legalized gay marriage. Maine and Maryland approved same-sex marriage with public votes last month as well.

Six other states — New York, Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont — and the District of Columbia had already enacted laws or issued court rulings that permit same-sex marriage.

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