The New York Times
Gay Marriage Is Legal
in U.S. Capital
By IAN URBINA,
nytimes.com from the Web, March 4, 2010
WASHINGTON — It was cold and
drizzling outside the City Courthouse just after 6 a.m. on Wednesday, but no one
seemed to mind among the same-sex couples waiting for the chance to apply for a
“This is a dream come true,” said Sinjoyla Townsend, 41, as she smiled ear to
ear and held up her ticket indicating she was first in line with her partner of
12 years, Angelisa Young, 47. “We wanted it so bad.”
Gay rights advocates hailed the day as a milestone for equal rights and a
symbolic victory as same-sex marriage became legal in the nation’s capital.
Washington is now the sixth place in the nation where same-sex marriages can
take place. Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont
also issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
Despite failing in court, opponents of the law vowed to fight another day.
The law survived Congressional attempts to block it, and Chief Justice John G.
Roberts Jr. on Tuesday rejected a request from opponents of same-sex marriage to
have the United States Supreme Court delay it.
Mayor Adrian M. Fenty signed the measure into law in December, but because the
District of Columbia is not a state, the law had to undergo Congressional
review, which ended Tuesday.
Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington on Tuesday limited employee
health care benefits to avoid coverage of same-sex couples. It was the
second time Catholic Charities changed its rules to protest same-sex marriage,
having earlier ended its foster care program.
The new law was already having regional implications.
Maryland’s attorney general, Douglas F. Gansler, issued a legal opinion last
week concluding that Maryland should immediately recognize same-sex marriages
Mr. Gansler’s move is expected to draw legal and legislative challenges, but for
Terrance Heath of Montgomery County, Md., it was the turning point that
persuaded him to get married.
“We realized that we can finally get many of the benefits and protections that
other couples take for granted,” said Mr. Heath, 41, a blogger who lives with
his partner, Rick Imirowicz, 43, and their two adopted sons.
“Before that attorney general decision we could have the legal documents, like
wills and medical power of attorney,” Mr. Heath said. “But there was no
guarantee that those documents would be recognized.”
He said that he and Mr. Imirowicz had worried about what might happen to any
inheritance meant for their sons, Parker, 7, and Dylan, 2. “Marriage gives
us peace of mind,” Mr. Heath said. “It gives my family security that we
At the city’s Marriage Bureau inside the Moultrie Courthouse, just blocks from
the Capitol, the mood was giddy as couples hugged and talked about a day they
never thought would arrive.
“I became a naturalized U.S. citizen in the mid-’90s,” said Cuc Vu, a native of
Vietnam who was third in line with her partner of 20 years, Gwen Migita.
“But this is really the first time that I feel like I have the full rights and
benefits of citizenship.”
Court officials explained that the Marriage Bureau had changed its license
applications: They ask for the name of each spouse rather than the bride
and groom. Officials who perform the weddings read, “I now pronounce you
On a typical day the office processes 10 licenses, court officials said.
By late Wednesday afternoon, more than 140 couples had filed to be married, the
mayor’s office said.
Because of a mandatory waiting period, couples will not be able to marry in the
city until Tuesday.
City officials say the measure will also provide a financial boost to the local
economy. A study by the Williams Institute at the University of
California, Los Angeles, predicted that more than 14,000 same-sex marriages
would occur in the city over the next three years, which would bring in $5
million in new tax revenue and create 700 jobs.