(Entrance to the building – head of the line – and media area)
10:21 PM: We’re at the King County Administration Building downtown with hundreds of people – both engaged couples and media – looking ahead to 12:01 am, when County Executive Dow Constantine will sign the county’s first licenses for same-sex marriages. It’s a jubilant atmosphere. Whooping and hollering can be heard every few minutes from somewhere down the line. More to come.
10:35 PM: Above are Jason and Shannon Mullett-Bowlsby, West Seattleites who are #84 in line for their license, after 18 years together. Here’s a better shot of the line – and bubbles!
Overhead, there’s now a helicopter. Assuming it’s TV, but not entirely sure. Maybe Guardian One is doing something fun for once. We did see new Sheriff John Urquhart working the line as we arrived just after 10 pm. County staff here tell us as of a few minutes ago, they have 189 couples waiting in line for licenses. Good thing the county put up a canopy for the couples – it’s starting to rain lightly. We’ve ducked just under the overhang on the east edge of the media area.
10:48 PM: You might recognize Marley Blonsky and Whitney Young– also West Seattleites – they have been featured in various publications, and we published their announcement on WSB a while back. They are thrilled beyond belief and are somewhere around #20, according to WSB team members Katie and Torin, who are roving. This group, meantime, is serenading everyone:
At 11:20, those of us who are credentialed to go into the recorder’s office for the signing ceremony at 12:01 will have to go wait in line ourselves – if we go silent for any period of time, check the WSB Twitter account, here.
11:00 PM: One hour to go. People of course are here with signs, like Jeaneane Hill:
The other side of her sign says “for my gay son.” A guy named Scott is handing out buttons in celebration of his sister and her partner – he says they have been together 43 years. The buttons are rainbow colored with the Washington state logo and December 6, 2012.
Meantime, more couples have shown up – 205 now, according to county reps.
11:13 PM: County Councilmember Joe McDermott (with fiancé Michael Culpepper in the foreground at left – McDermott says they’ll marry sometime next year):
More music – a group has just shown up near the door and is singing a spiritual, a cappella. Again, if we can’t get photos on the web once it’s time to go in, check our Twitter feed.
11:43 PM: We’re in the County Recorder’s Office with a media and dignitary crowd. The first couple to get a license, Jane and Pete-e, have arrived for photo ops too:
Others who are in the first licensing group have arrived too. Wider view:
Lots of staging going on – the actual event will start at 11:59, we’re hearing it explained.
11:56 PM: The ceremony starts in one minute – leading up to 12:01 am issuances. The room hushes.
MIDNIGHT: The crowd counted down, as County Executive Constantine, with County Councilmember McDermott at his side – both West Seattleites – paused his speech. All applauded, and yelled HAPPY MARRIAGE! (Added – our clip including that, and the first few license signings:)
12:06 AM: And – the first to be licensed!
Among the couples who have followed – famed writer/editor Dan Savage and partner Terry:
12:11 AM: Wrapping up the ceremonial first round of couples, County Executive Constantine pays tribute to those who went before – to the years it took to get to this point. Applause followed, and then “Let’s go have a party!” (But first, a group photo.)
12:27 AM: Down toward the street level now. Those in line outside are cheering wildly as each licensed couple emerges. (Added video – Jane and Pete-e, greeted like rockstars as they departed, escorted by West Seattleite Anne Levinson, former judge and deputy mayor, a key organizer of the marriage-equality campaign, and of the logistics for this celebratory day:)
2:21 AM: Back at HQ, adding some more of the visuals and info (added the entire midnight-signing-ceremony clip inline). Thanks to Katie Meyer and Torin Record-Sand for assisting with on-the-scene coverage. For continuing coverage, King County’s social-media team is on the beat all night. Just tweeted a few minutes ago:
In 2 hours, we’ve processed 127 licenses and are still ahead of schedule. Estimated wait time for ticket No. 240 is 5am.
— King County, WA (@kcnews) December 6, 2012
Also tweeting: Jason and Shannon, featured earlier in our story:
— Shibaguyz (@Shibaguyz) December 6, 2012
Congratulations to all. We’ll be reviewing more of our photos a bit later this morning to see if there’s more to add. And again, since there’s a waiting period, the weddings don’t start till Sunday.
7:12 AM NOTE: The county is continuing to tweet updates at @kcnews. More than 300 licenses so far.