March 4, 2010 in Nation/World

Same-sex couples in D.C. clutch wedding licenses

Jessica Gresko Associated Press
 
Associated Press photo

Darlene Garner, left, smiles at her partner, Candy Holmes, of Washington, D.C., after the couple obtained their marriage license Wednesday.
(Full-size photo)

WASHINGTON – One gay couple met on a Star Trek fan site, another dancing at a country western bar. Some have been together for months, others more than a decade.

About 150 pairs had something in common Wednesday, though, applying for wedding licenses on the first day same-sex unions became legal in the nation’s capital.

The mood at the marriage bureau inside the city’s Moultrie Courthouse was celebratory. Couples clapped, called out “Congratulations” and cupcakes and tulips were handed out.

The District of Columbia became the sixth place in the country permitting same-sex unions. Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont also issue same-sex couples licenses.

Because of a processing period of three business days for all marriage license applicants, the couples won’t be able to marry until Tuesday.

Sinjoyla Townsend, 41, and her partner of 12 years, Angelisa Young, 47, claimed the first spot in line just after 6 a.m. The district residents are already domestic partners but wanted to marry.

“It’s like waking up Christmas morning,” said Young, who teared up when she sat down to process their paperwork. “It’s really like a dream come true.”

Normally, the bureau handles 10 applications a day. On Wednesday it was 151, though at least four heterosexual couples did show up.

The gay marriage law was introduced in the 13-member D.C. Council in October and had near-unanimous support from the beginning. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty signed it in December, but because Washington is a federal district, the law had to undergo a congressional review period that expired March 2.

Opponents have so far been unsuccessful in challenging the law, but they are still attempting to overturn the bill in court.

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