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County breaks marriage-license record in 3 1/2 hours, as same-sex couples plan to marry

The historic ability of same-sex couples to acquire a marriage license in Washington has resulted in King County breaking its one-day record for license issuance in the first three and a half hours after the King County Recorder’s Office began issuing licenses at midnight Thursday.

As of 6:45 a.m. Thursday, more than 300 couples had officially filed for a marrriage license - and there was no waiting in line, according to a King County press release.

King County Executive Dow Constantine was still signing commemorative documents for all license purchasers at 4 a.m.

At 3:30 a.m., King County broke its record for issuing marriage licenses in a single day, with 212. The county typically issues between 75 and 100 licenses per day. As of 4 a.m., 247 marriage licenses had been issued.

“I am so proud to be a part of this momentous occasion,” said Jon Scherer, recording manager for King County. “In only three and a half hours, we produced more marriage licenses than we ever have in a single day, and there’s still more to come. It’s important for us to deliver the same quality of service to all of our citizens, and now we truly can.”

The licenses issued by King County this morning were the first in the nation to be issued under a state law enacted directly by voters – and this morning’s event was big news across the country. In fact, the marriage equality hashtag, #MEDayWA, was the number-five trending topic on Twitter across the nation overnight. King County is tweeting status updates and information on @kcnews, www.twitter.com/kcnews.

King County is sharing photos from the event on its Facebook page -- www.Facebook.com/KingCountyWA. Couples are encouraged to share their photos there as well.

In the 12:01 a.m. ceremony at the King County Recorder’s Office, the Constantine administered the oath and signed the marriage licenses for 11 same-sex couples recommended by community leaders. The first license he signed was for Jane Abbott Lighty and Pete-e Petersen of West Seattle, a couple who co-founded the Seattle Women’s Chorus and who will be getting married during a Seattle Men’s Chorus concert on Dec. 9.

Constantine signed the first licenses with one of the pens used by Gov. Christine Gregoire to sign the marriage equality bill into law on Feb. 13, soon after it had been approved by the Washington State Legislature. Opponents gathered petition signatures to block implementation of the law, but voters on Nov. 6 approved Referendum 74 to enact it. That vote was certified Wednesday by the Washington Secretary of State.

All the couples that are issued licenses Thursday will have to wait until at least Sunday to make their marriage official, as Washington state requires a three-day waiting period.

The King County Recorder’s Office in downtown Seattle will stay open until 6:30 p.m. Thursday to process marriage licenses for all couples. The office will reopen on Friday, Dec. 7, from 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., and 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 8.

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