On the first day of legal gay marriage in Washington state, the early morning crowd at the Pierce County Auditor’s Office was small, but warm.
After each couple received their marriage license, they were greeted with a round of cheers and applause from state employees and well-wishers standing in the licensing office.
By 7:05 a.m., 28 gay couples had received their marriage licenses, already surpassing the average 15 per day the licensing office typically serves, said chief deputy auditor Lori Augino.
Most of the couples hailed from Tacoma, but a few traveled from Gig Harbor, Puyallup and University Place to get their marriage licenses early on Thursday morning.
Tacoma residents Sherry Bockwinkel and Cindee Moore are getting married on Sunday.
“It’s a great day. It’s just so overwhelming, hard to put into words," Bockwinkel said. “We waited 21 years for this day."
Both Bockwinkel and Moore understood the significance of their union early Thursday morning, not only to themselves, but to the country and community.
“It’s going to take a while for every state to go through its thing, and the federal government to get it together, but it takes small steps to make change,” said Moore. “Being a pioneer can be a pain, but I’m glad we made it this far.”
Brandi Toups and Rae Cardenas from Tacoma received their marriage license this morning. The couple has been together for a year and will be getting married on Monday.
“We just love each other, and [Brandi] is my best friend, someone that I can share anything with, everything with,” said Cardenas. “We just decided that we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together. It’s empowering that we get the same rights to be married as a man and a woman do."
Pastors from The Bridge Methodist Church in Tacoma were on hand in bright rainbow stoles to celebrate with the couples and share handshakes and hugs.
“This is a great day for the gay community. I am gay, and it is amazing we are finally recognized as equals,” said Pastor Kelvin Brown.
The Bridge is offering free weddings from noon until 9 p.m. this Sunday in Tacoma.
“From the bottom of my heart, thank you all,” said Laurie Jinkens, legislative representative for the 27th District. “So many couples have waited a lifetime to be able to do this. They’ll never forget you, and we’ll never forget you.”