Same-sex couples can get marriage licenses in Washington state on Thursday -- exactly one month after voters legalized gay marriage.
Gov. Chris Gregoire and Secretary of State Sam Reed certified the election results Wednesday, paving the way for the state's first same-sex marriages, which could begin as early as Sunday.
Two counties will start issuing marriage licenses within hours -- at 12:01 a.m. Thursday.
King County was running a “marriage equality countdown” on its website. Couples can begin lining up at the King County Administration Building in downtown Seattle at 10 p.m. Wednesday -- two hours before the recorder's office opens, the website says.
Thurston County, home to Olympia, the state capital, will issue 10 licenses at 12:01 a.m. Thursday, Cory Curtis, a spokesman for the governor, said in an email to the Los Angeles Times.
“For the past 20 years we’ve been saying, 'Just one more step. Just one more fight. Just one more law.' But now we can stop saying, 'Just one more.’ This is it. We are here. We did it,” Gregoire said in a news release. “In just a few hours, all Washington families will have the opportunity to receive a marriage license.”
Washington imposes a three-day waiting period before marriage licenses become valid. That makes Sunday the earliest a wedding could take place.
Gregoire signed a bill legalizing same-sex marriage in February, but opponents gained enough signatures to hold a referendum, putting the law on hold. On Nov. 6, voters endorsed the same-sex marriage law 54% to 46%.
Maine and Maryland voters also legalized same-sex marriage Nov. 6, joining Washington as the first states to do so at the ballot box.
Curtis said Washington would be the first of those states to begin issuing marriage licenses.
Same-sex marriage is legal in six other states and the District of Columbia.