BELLINGHAM - Several Whatcom County clergy will be available to marry same-sex couples on the steps of the Whatcom County Courthouse on Sunday, Dec. 9.
That's the first day that gay and lesbian couples can wed under the state's new law legalizing gay marriage, which voters approved in November.
Same-sex couples can apply for marriage licenses beginning Thursday, Dec. 6, but the state requires a three-day waiting period before marrying.
Participating clergy are marrying couples for free.
The event is being planned by Gary Shoemaker, pastor with First Christian Church in Bellingham, and his wife, Tamalyn Kralman, who also is an ordained minister. Both will be at the Sunday event, which will run 1 to 4 p.m.
Shoemaker said he didn't know many couples will show up to be married.
"I'm hoping we have people who are willing to make that kind of a public celebration and acknowledge that this is a huge cultural shift," he said. "I'm very proud of our state. I feel like this is monumental."
Shoemaker is participating in the event and marrying gay couples for several reasons.
"I believe that a person's sexuality and sexual orientation is not a choice, and because it is not a choice it can't be a sin," he said.
"The folks that I know who happen to be gay deserve to have the same rights and securities that I have had because I happen to be heterosexual," Shoemaker added. "I think it's part of basic human rights and societal equal rights."
The County Courthouse is at 311 Grand Ave., in downtown Bellingham.
Details: Call Shoemaker at 360-441-2000.
The Whatcom County Auditor's Office will start issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples beginning Thursday, Dec. 6. The office in the County Courthouse, 311 Grand Ave., Suite 103, will stay open longer for three days beginning Dec. 6:
- Thursday, Dec. 6: 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
- Friday, Dec. 7: 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
- Saturday, Dec. 8: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Each license costs $58; no personal checks will be accepted as payment.
The Auditor's Office is the only place in Whatcom County where couples can obtain marriage licenses. Because Washington has a three-day waiting period, couples who obtain their licenses Dec. 6 can't marry until Dec. 9.
The Auditor's Office doesn't perform marriages; couples must make other arrangements. Details: whatcomcounty.us/auditor/marriages.
Reach KIE RELYEA at email@example.com or call 715-2234.