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Washington counties brace for same-sex marriage rush

Same-sex couples can start applying for marriage licenses in Washington at midnight on Thursday, and county officials say they’ll be ready.

The King County auditor’s office will open bright and early: Couples will be able to start queuing up at 10:00 the night before. County Executive Dow Constantine will preside over a special licensing ceremony for a handful of couples right after the stroke of midnight, and the office will keep operating right through 6:30 that night.

“We don’t want people to have to wait one moment longer than necessary to be able to finally take advantage of the rights they’ve always had, the rights that have been denied to them, the rights that have finally been recognized by the voting public,” Constantine said.

Pierce County offices will also open early Thursday, though not quite that early. The auditor’s office will begin seeing applicants at 6:30 in the morning and continue through 8:00pm. Chief Deputy Auditor Lori Augino said they’re taking steps to keep it orderly.

“We’ve put some measures in place to avoid those camp-outs. We don’t want anyone coming down at midnight and camping out so that they can reserve that first spot in line. We want this to be, you know, business as usual,” she said.

The county will instead dole out numbers the day before to reserve a slot for Thursday. Augino said they’re expecting something like 150 couples on Thursday, about five-to-ten times more than a typical day.

Snohomish County is also gearing up for increased demand, especially if Seattle-area couples decide to forgo the lines at King County and head up to Everett. Auditor Carolyn Weikel said they won’t be extending hours much – just skipping their lunch break on Thursday. But she said she’s thinking of ways to make the office that day feel a little extra festive. She’s considering baking cookies.

Gabriel Spitzer is the Host and Senior Producer of Sound Effect, KNKX's "weekly tour of ideas inspired by the place we live." Gabriel was previously KNKX's Science and Health Reporter. He joined KNKX after years covering science, health and the environment at WBEZ in Chicago. There, he created the award-winning mini-show, Clever Apes. Having also lived in Alaska and California, Gabriel feels he’s been closing in on Seattle for some time, and has finally landed on the bullseye.
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