VANCOUVER -- Early Thursday morning, Washington became the 7th state to legalize same-sex marriage and couples were standing in line at dawn eagerly awaiting their marriage licenses.
In Vancouver, Jessica Lee and Ashley Cavner waited outside the Clark County auditor's office all night.
"It's a huge pride issue for me, It had to be," Lee said. “Now it just feels good to know that she’s mine forever,” Cavner added.
Lee and Cavner got the first license of the morning, when the auditor's office opened at 8 a.m., Thursday. But they won't be able to get married until Sunday, because there is a required 3-day waiting period.
Paul Harris manages the office that issues marriage licenses in Clark County and was excited to get one himself, too. He and James Griener have been together nearly 40 years and now they plan to get married on 12/12/12.
"I didn’t want to get emotional because I still have to make sure everything [in the process] works okay. But this is a day we’ve waited for," Harris said.
"I feel validated," Griener added. "This is a long time coming and I’m overjoyed."
The longest lines in the state were in Seattle. King County Executive Dow Constantine signed the first marriage licenses just after midnight. By 7 a.m. Thursday, 300 licenses were issued. The county set a new single-day record.
"Tonight you are making history," said Constantine to the first group of couples at a special midnight ceremony.
The first couple was Jane Abbott Lighty and Pete-e Petersen of West Seattle, co-founders of the Seattle Women's Chorus.
"To have our 35-year loving relationship publicly honored and celebrated and have this be a legal marriage means everything to both of us," said Lighty, 77.
"In our marriage ceremony Sunday evening, both of us will be honored and privileged to represent not only ourselves but the greater community," said Petersen, 85.
The couples who were part of the special midnight ceremony included Seattle columnist and gay rights advocate Dan Savage and his partner, Terry Miller.
“I was just so proud to be in that line and so proud of all the couples, most of whom have been together longer than my partner and I have been together,” said Savage.
The line started at 4 p.m. Wednesday. As it grew, volunteers distributed roses and a group of men and women serenaded the waiting line to the tune of "Going to the Chapel.”
Also on Wednesday, Gov. Chris Gregoire signed into law a measure legalizing same-sex marriage in Washington state. The law was passed by the state Legislature earlier this year, but a referendum sent the measure to voters, who approved it last month.