Same-sex couples in Pierce County haven’t wasted any time heading for the altar after being cleared by voters to legally marry.
In approximately the first month since the legalization of same-sex marriage in Washington, the county issued licenses to 161 such couples. Dec. 6 was the first day the licenses could be obtained, and on that date, 56 licenses were requested at the county auditor’s office in Tacoma.
Officials expected a big run on the licenses the first day by same-sex twosomes who could finally be wedded, and they were right. “The first day was our highest” one-day demand, said Auditor Julie Anderson. “Since then, we have averaged four applications per day.”
The first-day surge wasn’t as high as Anderson predicted. She had estimated 150 couples would apply for licenses that day.
The auditor’s office, which issues all marriage licenses in Pierce County, extended the hours of its licensing division on Dec. 6 and the three following days – including a Saturday and Sunday – in anticipation of pent-up demand from same-sex couples.
A statewide ballot measure legalizing same-sex marriages passed in the general election last November. The authority to issue the licenses took effect 30 days later.
Legalized same-sex marriage is a new revenue source for the county. Each of the 161 licenses granted as of Jan. 9 cost the applicants the standard $64 marriage license fee, for a total of $10,304.
It isn’t known how Pierce County compares so far to the rest of the state in the number of licenses it has issued. But in neighboring King County, at least 450 licenses were requested in the auditor’s office in Seattle on Dec. 6 alone, according to news reports.
It’s also not clear if everyone among the same-sex couples who’ve received marriage licenses from Pierce County live in the county. While their addresses are part of the application process, that information wasn’t readily available from statistics compiled by the auditor’s office.
Applicants for marriage licenses must be at least 18 years old, have valid ID and wait at least three days after receiving a license before actually marrying. Licenses are valid for 60 days.
In addition to going to the auditor’s office, couples can submit marriage license applications online.