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Gay Seattle couple first to tie knot in Massachusettsfederal laws
Gay Seattle couple first to tie knot in Massachusettsfederal laws
by Nick Ardizzone - SGN Staff Writer

On July 31, Seattleite Glenn Bates and his partner, Andrew Thompson, were driving to Provincetown, MA, for their vacation. Due to a serendipitous radio broadcast and the pair's tenacity, they became the first Gay couple from Washington to legally marry in Massachusetts. Bates and Thompson, back in Seattle following their honeymoon, spoke to the Seattle Gay News about the happy coincidence of their marriage and what Washington should learn from Massachusetts.

"We were driving through Rhode Island and Massachusetts, and the governor of Massachusetts [Deval Partick] was on the radio," recalled Bates. "He said, among other great things, that everybody has the right to come before their government as equals, and that he was rescinding a 1913 law that made it so out-of-state people couldn't marry in Massachusetts, and he said he was making it immediate."

Thompson smiled. "I turned and said, 'Let's get married.' We were driving to meet friends. We planned on staying [with them] to celebrate his birthday on August 1, so we got married on his birthday," he said, giving Bates a quick kiss.

Although the 1913 law had been repealed, Massachusetts still presented the pair with an obstacle: "The town clerk said he had to wait three days," said Bates. "You have to either wait three days to be married, or you can go to a judge and get an exception."

"That's the law in Massachusetts," assured Thompson. "That's for everybody."

"You need to wait three days and sober up," Bates grinned.

Not to be deterred, the pair sought a sympathetic judge to override the three-day waiting period. A Cape Cod judge was located, but his court was in session. Remarkably, he called an immediate recess in order to notarize the couple's papers. Signed waiver in hand, the pair met up with their friends, who had secured a Justice of the Peace.

"We went back to Provincetown, filled out a whole bunch of things, signed a whole bunch of stuff & and then we went and played in the sand and collected seashells," Bates recalled. "[A friend] got some cupcakes and piled them up and found two little boy [figurines] to stand on top of the cupcakes, and we surrounded it with all the seashells we found at low tide. Then [Justice of the Peace] Rachael showed up at 6:30, and she said really beautiful things & it was a beautiful evening, the sun was just getting ready to set, and it took - how long, 15 minutes? It was simple, civil & we rang a giant old ship bell, and we kissed, and that was the end. And then we all got drunk."

"We were the first male couple to get married in Provincetown - potentially the whole state," said Bates. "The Lesbians beat us to it; they filed within minutes, we filed within hours. They were from New York. They didn't have to go nearly as far as we did."

"Provincetown is the place I wish that the rest of America could be," said Bates. "Boys holding hands and pushing strollers with babies ... it's a magical place. To go somewhere and be treated like loving human beings was - it was nice."

As magical as Provincetown may be, Seattle boasts plenty of wholesome same-sex couples. Why doesn't Washington have a similar stance on same-sex marriage?

Bates seemed to have a prepared stance on that subject. "You can't get married here in Washington because it's an election year, and they're more interested in capitulating to bigots and throwing faggots under the bus," he spat. "I don't think it's gonna happen in our lifetime. The governor isn't going to have any leadership on this, the state supreme court has no leadership on this, the mayor has no leadership on this, it's not gonna happen."

"I guess they don't want our money," he mused wryly. "We spent a lot of money to go on our vacation, and it wasn't cheap to get married in Massachusetts, but Massachusetts has opened their arms in a loving way and they're gonna get hundreds of millions of dollars out of this. And, come next year, for our anniversary, we're going back to Provincetown."

"We're not going to spend money on our anniversary in a state that isn't interested in our money or our love. We spent our honeymoon in Maine."

"It rained every day," laughed Thompson. "It was like being here."

With Washington being uncooperative to same-sex couples, what should a marriage-minded couple do?

"You could go to Massachusetts or California, though I wouldn't go to California just yet," said Bates. "In Massachusetts, the war has been won, but in California, the battle is just gearing up. The right in California will probably be taken away, granted, and taken away again, but in Massachusetts, it's a done deal. They're on the doorstep of hundreds of millions of dollars. People are going to want to go."

The pair suggests planning a Massachusetts vacation weekend around the three-day waiting period, since not every couple will be lucky enough to quickly find a judge. As an added bonus, Massachusetts offers a temporary title of Justice of the Peace for advance applicants. "If you decided you wanted your friend to marry you, you fill out a paper and wait four weeks for them to process it," explained Bates, and then your friend could perform the ceremony. "It's a one-time deal, but you could have anybody marry you - anybody. Get Varla Jean Merman!"

"Or Dina Martina!" Thompson exclaimed.

"We've been together 16 years, and it was about time," Bates said, then hesitated. "We wanted to wait and get married in Washington, but we were gonna grow old and die before that was gonna happen."

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