County’s plan for same-sex marriage licenses: 12:01 am December 6th

Just in from King County Executive Dow Constantine‘s office – he will open the County Recorder’s Office literally the minute that same-sex marriage is legal, to start issuing licenses. Here’s the official announcement:

King County Executive Dow Constantine will open the County Recorder’s Office at 12:01 a.m. on Thursday, Dec. 6 – immediately upon certification of the November election – to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

“I don’t want couples to wait a minute longer than legally necessary to get the rights that voters have recognized,” said Executive Constantine, who will personally sign the first marriage licenses at 12:01 a.m.

The move will make King County the first jurisdiction in the nation to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples based on voter approval.

Much more information ahead regarding how it’ll work:

Voters in Washington, Maryland, and Maine all approved marriage equality initiatives on Election Day last week, but the laws in Maryland and Maine will not take effect until January. Under state law couples must wait three days before the actual marriage ceremony may be performed.

The Recorder’s Office is located in the King County Administration Building at 500 Fourth Avenue in Seattle. Couples may start lining up at the James Street entrance (on the north plaza of the Administration Building) at 10:00 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 5. An official queuing area will be designated on the plaza. For people with mobility issues, an accessible entrance will be available on Fourth Avenue, and individuals will be directed to the plaza.

Couples will be served on a first-come, first-served basis. As previously announced, the Recorder’s Office will remain open on Dec. 6 until 6:30 p.m. to meet expected demand. All couples within the official queuing area at 4:30 p.m. will be served.

On Friday, Dec. 7, the office will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Couples will be able to line up starting at 6:30 a.m. All couples within the official queuing area at 4:30 p.m. will be served.

On Saturday, Dec. 8, the Recorder’s Office will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The lineup will begin at 6:30 a.m., and all couples within the official queuing area at 2:30 p.m. will be served.

All couples, regardless of gender, seeking a marriage license on these three days will need to wait in line. To help reduce delays, couples are encouraged to download a marriage license application from and bring the completed form with them when they apply.

In case of inclement weather on any of these three days, check local media or for information.

Below is general information on marriage licensing, the requirements for obtaining a license, and things to keep in mind as couples prepare for this important day. This information is also available at

Applying in Person

Both parties must be present to obtain a marriage license in person. Save time by downloading and completing an application at Bring the completed application, photo ID, and the $64 fee (cash or local check, no debit or credit cards). The license will be issued at that time, but does not become valid until a three-day waiting period has passed. Applicants do not need witnesses, blood tests, birth certificates, or divorce papers to apply. The application process takes 10 to 15 minutes to complete.

Applicant Requirements

Both applicants must be unmarried and at least 18 years old or otherwise able to meet the age requirements. Same-sex couples do not have to be previously registered domestic partners to apply for a marriage license. However, if a same-sex couple has registered, they must indicate that on their license application. They will also have to pay the $64 application fee.

Applicants cannot be more closely related than second cousins, whole or half blood.

Seventeen-year-olds can only apply if their parent or legal guardian submits a notarized statement of consent or the applicant is legally emancipated and takes a court-certified copy of the emancipation document with them to apply.

Applicants under the age of 17 can only apply when the age requirement is waived by a superior court judge of the county in which one of the parties lives. Each party to the marriage who is under 17 years of age must present a waiver specifically naming them.

Divorced Applicants

Previously divorced applicants do not need to have a copy of their divorce papers to apply for a new marriage license. A divorce must be final and filed before applying for a marriage license. Under no circumstances may a person apply for a marriage license before they are divorced.

Residency and Citizenship Requirements

Marriage license applicants do not have to reside in Washington State, nor do they need to be a citizen of the United States. A marriage license purchased from any county in Washington State can be used to get married anywhere in Washington State. Couples do not have to apply for a marriage license in the county where they live, nor do they need to apply for their marriage license in the county where the wedding ceremony will take place. However, a marriage license obtained in Washington State cannot be used to get married in another state or country.

Applicants are not required to have a U.S. Social Security number in order to obtain a marriage license. However, one of the marriage license forms requires the inclusion of one’s Social Security number or the applicant’s signature on a declaration that they do not have a U.S. Social Security number. This will not affect the couple’s ability to receive a marriage license.

When and Where the Marriage License Can Be Used

Washington State marriage licenses become valid for use on the third day following application and are then valid for 60 days. For example, if an application is made on Thursday, the first day the marriage license can be used is Sunday. The last day it can be used is 60 days later. If the wedding ceremony does not take place within this time period, the couple will need to apply for a new marriage license.

Under no circumstances can the three-day waiting period be waived.

If a couple applies for their marriage license less than three days before their established wedding date, they will need to have a separate ceremony within the period the license is valid in which the parties assent or declare, in the physical presence of the officiant and at least two attending witnesses, that they take each other to be spouses. The marriage license forms will be completed and signed using this date.

A Washington State marriage license can only be used to get married within the state. A wedding ceremony on a vessel must be in Washington waters.

Who Can Perform a Wedding Ceremony?

Justices of the Washington State Supreme Court
Judges of the Washington State Court of Appeals
Judges of the superior courts and superior court commissioners in Washington State
Judges of courts of limited jurisdiction (for example, district courts or municipal courts) in Washington State
Any regularly licensed or ordained minister or any priest of any church or religious denomination

▫ A minister from a church in another state can perform a wedding ceremony in Washington State and is not required to register with the state in order to do so

Washington State does not “license” persons to perform weddings. If a minister or priest is recognized as ordained or granted the power to perform weddings by their religious organization, that person is allowed to do so in Washington State. Washington State does not grant a one-day license for persons to perform wedding ceremonies.

A ship captain cannot perform a wedding ceremony simply by virtue of being a ship captain. However, if the captain otherwise meets the requirements above, they can do so.

Neither the couple nor the two witnesses can officiate the wedding ceremony, even if they meet the requirements of the law to officiate weddings.


State law does not specify the age of witnesses. However, they are witnessing a civil contract. As such, a witness is deemed competent for this purpose usually at the age of 18. If applicants wish to have persons under the age of 18 witness the ceremony, we recommend they have two other witnesses who are over 18 also observe the exchange of vows and sign the marriage certificates. More than two witnesses may sign the certificates.

Additional Information

Proxy weddings (where someone stands in for the other party) are not recognized in Washington State. The two parties must be physically present before the two witnesses and the officiant in order for the ceremony to be performed.
A wedding ceremony must take place. Simply applying for and obtaining a marriage license does not make you married.
A minimum of five persons must be present at the wedding ceremony: the officiant, the couple, and two witnesses.

▫ The officiant cannot serve as a witness.

The parties must assent or declare, in the physical presence of the officiant solemnizing the marriage and at least two attending witnesses, that they take each other to be spouses.

Preparing, Completing, and Returning Marriage License Forms

Full directions for completing marriage license forms and filing them after the ceremony can be found at

Within 30 days of the wedding ceremony, the officiant must return the completed Washington State Department of Health certificate to:

King County Marriage Licensing
King County Administration Building
500 Fourth Ave., Suite 311
Seattle, WA 98104

41 Replies to "County's plan for same-sex marriage licenses: 12:01 am December 6th"

  • Westcoastdeb November 15, 2012 (12:25 pm)

    Anyone know of a mass wedding or some other type of thing planned for the 9th – the first day weddings can legally take place? I would love to witness this!

  • Click! November 15, 2012 (12:27 pm)

    Awesome! Yea, Dow!

  • dq November 15, 2012 (12:50 pm)

    That’s pretty cool…

  • Marlena November 15, 2012 (12:57 pm)

    I love that there’s a marriage equality countdown on the King County Marriage website! We live in an awesome place!

  • JoAnne November 15, 2012 (1:36 pm)

    Another phoney made-up news event that amounts to unreported campaign contributions to Dow Constantine.

    Oh no, WS Blog is not biased. Oh no. Not at all.

    • WSB November 15, 2012 (1:59 pm)

      JoAnne, this is news. Sorry that you don’t agree. Actually, it’s history! And we will be there to cover it, as would be the case whether a Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Green Party, or whatever member was making history by presiding over this historic occasion in which a group of people long denied a right simply because of how they were born, will finally be able to access it. – Tracy

  • Julie November 15, 2012 (2:05 pm)

    JoAnne, it may not be news/important to you but this announcement is important to many couples and families in our community and the rest of the state. Something they have been waiting years, if not decades, to hear.

  • SillyGoose November 15, 2012 (2:06 pm)

    JOANNE this is news and a huge step in America representing true equality for all! Why such a prude about it?

    I am thrilled that I am seeing this in my life time and think I will be attending alot of fun weddings very soon!!
    Thanks WS Blog.

  • Dave November 15, 2012 (2:18 pm)

    Poor little right-winger, so bitter and close minded. Hey guess what, you lost, get over it, we aren’t going back to the 1950s. Sorry for ya!

  • Irukandji November 15, 2012 (2:20 pm)

    Thank you WSB! For those of us with gay friends and family members, and for those who do consider this a positive step in human rights, it IS news. I look forward to your report.

  • let them swim November 15, 2012 (2:25 pm)

    @ JoAnne, It’s also reported on “KOMO NEWS.COM”.
    So, I suppose you think that org. is “BIAS” W.S. Blog rocks for the info. they bring us. More informative that most news sources, and a hell of alot faster!!

  • Teri Ensley November 15, 2012 (2:32 pm)

    Thank you Washington State Voters.

    Thank you Dow.

    Thank WSB for covering this. It is indeed news worthy and historical.

    Very proud to live in Seattle/King County/Washington State/The United States of America.

  • Me November 15, 2012 (3:21 pm)

    What I think is interesting and wonder about is if there will be a backlash about the overtime that will be required of County Recorders office employees that may be forced to have to work during this time period. Dow can do what he wants, but any City employee that is working may require overtime and that may affect the budget. Will people also commend that? The voters have spoken about the subject and it does need to be implemented, but at that hour?

  • robin November 15, 2012 (3:22 pm)


  • Ken November 15, 2012 (3:29 pm)

    Most politicians see a parade and run to get in front of it.
    Dow has been marching with his friends and neighbors in West Seattle since it was an uphill slog with no end in sight.

    Congratulations to Dow and all the Democrats of the 34th District.

    Republicans are still meeting in their “Sekrit Klubhouse” in WS

  • miws November 15, 2012 (3:33 pm)

    Oh no, WS Blog is not biased. Oh no. Not at all.

    And yet you continue to read and occasionally comment, Joanne….


    You sound a bit upset at all of this.


    Tell us; how does allowing gays to marry negatively affect you?



  • WSFoodie November 15, 2012 (3:48 pm)

    Fantastic! I can’t wait to see the photos of all these happy couples finally getting what they’ve long deserved – equality under the law. Thanks for reporting this great NEWS!

  • dawsonct November 15, 2012 (4:05 pm)

    I would like to be at the court house to cheer people on. What a great day for our state and Nation!
    An early A.M. appointment prevents late-night festivities.

  • hipster! November 15, 2012 (4:46 pm)

    wow Joanne- way to rain on this parade! :(

  • cr November 15, 2012 (4:56 pm)

    Me does have a valid point. Who foots the bill for this historic event?

  • Neighbor November 15, 2012 (5:20 pm)

    Makes me wanna get all joyfull and throw some birdseed and rose petals or something’!!!

    I think it would be quite a thing if a bunch of us straights did just that on December 6th! Let’s share the Love!

  • Laura November 15, 2012 (5:24 pm)

    Seattle City Hall is doing multiple weddings on December 9 (the first day same-sex couples can get married). They’re looking for volunteers, if anyone is interested. More info here:

  • Carter November 15, 2012 (5:43 pm)

    @ JoAnne May I suggest you take your dour, bitter self and move to Uganda. Seems like you’d be right at home:

  • Dietrich Schmitz November 15, 2012 (6:08 pm)

    Way to go Dow!

  • Franci November 15, 2012 (6:55 pm)

    Its not WS or on the 9th, but there is a Big Gay Wedding happening at Center for Spiritual Living on Dec. 15th. If you are interested you must register to get a spot at

  • WestSide45 November 15, 2012 (6:58 pm)

    There will now need to be a new specialty in law school—same-sex divorces (maybe it’s there already). Would your divorce case be more fairly adjudicated if the judge were a gay/lesbian or a hetero? Hmm? Would you have a choice of the chosen sexuality of your public defender?

    Okay, lighten up…but this will happen.

  • brenda November 15, 2012 (7:00 pm)

    Hey Joanne, what we resist eventually persists.
    If you can’t beat ’em……join ’em!

    Thank You sincerely WSB for reporting all the news coverage you do.

  • Catherine November 15, 2012 (7:28 pm)

    This gives me so much hope! I can’t wait to see the coverage of these couples getting married. Go, Washington and thank you, Dow! I love equality :)

  • West Seattle since 1979 November 15, 2012 (7:53 pm)

    me & cr regarding offsetting the cost: Won’t all those $64 fees help offset the cost somewhat, or am I being naive or missing something? After all, these are fees that wouldn’t have been received if the referendum hadn’t passed.

  • Ajax November 15, 2012 (9:46 pm)

    Just because you don’t agree with the news, that doesn’t mean it isn’t news. I just can’t imagine spending my time perusing news sources that I find biased as it would just get my blood pressure up. You’d have to have a pretty empty life to spend your time doing that, right?

  • mookie November 15, 2012 (10:32 pm)

    It is news. Gee, I hope some folks don’t read Seattle/Tacoma’s FOX affiliate Q13 either, as they also reported this. So did KING, KOMO, News Tribune, Crosscut, Seattle PI, et al.
    Constantine is King County Executive – whether some folks like it or not. Axe-grinding on news organizations for reporting news just because one dislikes Constantine is…well, I hope it’s a satisfying pastime, but do expect others to call b.s. on it.

  • Bonnie November 15, 2012 (10:32 pm)

    Boo JoAnne! I am very happy for those who can now get married!

  • anti-obstruction November 16, 2012 (5:08 am)

    Thanks WSB! For all the bitter haters out there, (you know who you are) in spite of the fact that a matter of duly-passed civil rights legislation never should have then been put up to popular vote, it was…and WE won. Get over it and yourselves, the world it is changing, in this case, for the better.

  • datamuse November 16, 2012 (7:38 am)

    WestSide45, what possible difference could it make?
    Legally, there IS no difference. That was the entire point. Sheesh.

  • ws commuter November 16, 2012 (9:36 am)

    WestSide45 … Your comment coudn’t be more ignorant of the law and how the law works. Truly. For reals.

    I do agree … some folks need to lighten up; please, with all due respect, look in the mirror. Your “predictions” are rooted in fantasy.

  • AIDM November 16, 2012 (10:02 am)

    It will be so great to see the realization of marriage equality in this state and in this county. Nice to hear that it is happening at the earliest possible moment. Congratulations to all of the December newlyweds!

  • cr November 16, 2012 (10:38 am)

    West Seattle since 1979,

    I have no idea. I am not an educated enough person in the wage costs for city/county workers in this department. Just posing a question. Not downplaying the importance of this event. People love to get up in arms about city/county/state spending when it comes to roadwork/police costs/etc, but apparently not this.

  • vraxvalhalla November 16, 2012 (12:00 pm)

    @Joanne– You’ll get over it.

  • West Seattle since 1979 November 16, 2012 (10:07 pm)

    Cr, I don’t know either, but it seems to me the huge influx of people getting marriage licenses (some of whom will likely come from other states that don’t have legal same-sex marriage) would more than make up for the overtime.

    And it’s a wonderful thing anyway. Why quibble about it if the overtime isn’t quite offset? Why should people complain?

  • gina November 18, 2012 (2:05 pm)

    I bet there is going to be a run on sheet cakes!

  • S November 18, 2012 (7:05 pm)

    As a tax payer I do not want to be footing the bill for the overtime. I don’t see why this can’t be done in normal business hours.

Sorry, comment time is over.