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Wedding bells ring for same sex couples in Washington State
After waiting for hours in line last week to obtain marriage licenses, hundreds of same sex couples finally got to tie the knot this weekend. The ceremonies were made possible by the new voter approved same sex marriage law.
Inside the sanctuary at Seattle First Baptist Church twenty five couples, dressed in everything from matching, dapper suits and white dresses to coordinated western cowboy shirts, became a part of Washington State history when Pastor Tim Phillips said these familiar words.
"And by the power invested in me, I now declare that you are married!"
Michelle Draper, who is now married to Laurie Cullen, is shocked by how quickly public opinion is changing around the issue of men marrying men and women marrying women. Draper is hopeful more and more people in the United States will accept this as right that everyone should have.
"I think that momentum will build and that as people realize that the fact that I married the woman that I love did not undermine their marriage, I thank that attitudes will become more generous."
Many of the couples who were married at Seattle First Baptist have been together for decades, much longer than most marriages actually last. Most of these newlyweds have celebrated their domestic partnerships with formal ceremonies in the past. But newly married Laurie Cullen says getting married carries a different kind of weight.
"When I go to the grocery store now I can walk down the isle and I don't care if I put my arm around her (in public) because the state says we can be a couple!"
Even though these unions are recognized by the state, the federal defense of marriage act, or DOMA, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman, prevents them from qualifying for federal benefits, such as filing joint tax returns and getting social security survivor’s payments. The US Supreme Court will be reviewing a case against DOMA next year.