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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, December 14, 2012 - Volume 40 Issue 50
'Everyone is welcome here' - Mayor McGinn opens Seattle City Hall for same-sex marriages
Section One
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'Everyone is welcome here' - Mayor McGinn opens Seattle City Hall for same-sex marriages

by Shaun Knittel - SGN Associate Editor

Same-sex couples pronounced their wedding vows Sunday morning at Seattle City Hall. An SGN photography team - Nate Gowdy, Jen DeLeo, Richard Wood, and Jimmy Gonzalez - spent the day documenting the historic occasion (see photos, Section 3).

The marathon marriage session at Seattle City Hall ended Sunday with 133 same-sex couples getting legally married.

The individual ceremonies marked the first day of legal same-sex marriage in Washington. King County had accounted for roughly half of the 841 same-sex marriage licenses issued throughout the state December 6, and city officials were unanimous in their support for the City Hall nuptials.

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn's office played the role of wedding planner. His staff helped set up an efficient system that had couples and their guests line up outside City Hall and then be ushered inside to a relaxed reception room with white tablecloths and a pianist.

A PERSONAL GREETING
McGinn, who greeted each couple as they arrived, called it a 'great day, a joyous day.'

'What a wonderful thing to be able to support the commitment of these couples to each other and to herald the beginning of a new civil right,' McGinn said.

'It's a great day,' echoed McGinn's spokesman, Aaron Pickus. 'Seattle voted overwhelmingly for marriage equality. It just shows once again that everyone is welcome here.

'You are seeing all generations here - people fighting for equality for decades,' added Pickus.

Sixteen judges from around the Puget Sound region volunteered to administer vows to couples. The average ceremony lasted 15 minutes.

The newlyweds then joined family and friends to mix and mingle, enjoy refreshments, and have photos taken. The couples then descended the staircase from City Hall to Fourth Avenue to be greeted by hundreds of well-wishers and TV cameras.

The mayor's staff posted updates in a same-sex marriage blog, which ran a live feed of the events and documented the couples' stories throughout the day.

Seattle Theatre Group, the Seattle Mayor's Office, Washington United for Marriage, Music for Marriage Equality and The Stranger hosted a wedding reception at the Paramount Theatre following the City Hall ceremonies.

MOMENTUM BUILDING
Many activists now hope to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), passed in 1996, which recognizes only marriage between a man and a woman and disqualifies same-sex couples from a host of federal benefits. DOMA also allows states without marriage equality to refuse recognition of same-sex marriages performed elsewhere. The U.S. Supreme Court on December 7 agreed to take up two landmark cases involving marriage equality, one concerning DOMA and the other dealing with California's anti-equality Prop 8. A pair of national polls released last week showed a majority of Americans now support marriage equality. The support level among citizens aged 30 and under approaches 75%.

In May, President Barack Obama became the first U.S. president to say same-sex couples should be able to wed. Last month, Washington, Maine, and Maryland became the first states to legalize same-sex marriage by popular vote. Nine states, plus the District of Columbia, now permit same-sex marriage.

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'Everyone is welcome here' - Mayor McGinn opens Seattle City Hall for same-sex marriages
------------------------------
Reading the tea leaves - What will the Supreme Court do about DOMA?
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Republicans take control of WA Senate
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The 'religious freedom' red herring
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IN LOVING MEMORY: JOSEPH R. EISENHAUER
April 4, 1948 - December 15, 1999


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