Wearing matching tuxedos, Jeremy Moon and Brian Legaspi went to D.C. Superior Court well before dawn on Tuesday. They wanted to be among the first in line to pick up their marriage license and planned to be wed by a judge later in the morning.
Last week, gay and lesbian couples were permitted to apply for D.C. marriage licenses. Tuesday marks the end of the mandatory three-day waiting period, and is the first opportunity for same-sex couples to tie the knot.
About 150 couples applied for licenses, and many planned to wed in ceremonies scheduled around town today.
James Betz and Rob Hawthorne arranged to have a minister meet them Tuesday morning to exchange their vows right outside the courthouse.
The District is the sixth place in the country permitting same-sex unions. Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont also issue same-sex couples licenses.
Once couples pick up their license, they have to have the person who performs their marriage sign it and then return it to the marriage bureau to be recorded.
Fifteen licenses were picked up in the first hour the marriage bureau was open and two couples quickly got married and returned to pick up their certificates, courthouse spokeswoman Leah Gurowitz said. More couples also were applying for licenses Tuesday.
By the time the marriage bureau closed Tuesday, 42 couples had returned to pick up their licenses. At least a dozen couples married and returned the licenses the same day. Couples do have 10 days to return their licenses after they have been married, so more couples may have actually tied the knot.
Three morning weddings were planned at the office of the Human Rights Campaign, which does advocacy work on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues. Angelina Young and Sinjoyla Townsend -- the first same-sex couple to apply for a D.C. marriage license last week -- held their wedding at the office's auditorium at New Hampshire and 17th streets in downtown D.C.
"Today was like a dream for me," Young said.
Young and Townsend married in a room with about 100 guests sitting on white chairs and standing next to bouquets of white snapdragons and yellow chrysanthemums, roses and carnations. A cellist played before the ceremony, and cream and gray programs announced the names of the three pairs along with: "Congratulations to the couples on this historic day."
Rebecca and Delia Taylor picked up their license early Tuesday and immediately were married outside the courthouse by a minister friend. The couple said they long ago exchanged rings and considered themselves married. Still, they were grinning after picking up their certificate back inside the courthouse following the ceremony.
"We've referred to each other as wives," Rebecca Taylor said. "It's just a legal document, so if anything happens to one of us, we have rights."
But Delia Taylor said she found it moving to recite the vows.
In the afternoon, a couple had a ceremony planned at All Souls Church -- the same place where D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty signed the bill legalizing the unions in December.
Another couple, District residents Eva Townsend and Shana McDavis-Conway, said they were planning a wedding by their plot in
a community garden, where they have grown carrots and potatoes. Other couples said they already had ceremonies and would simply wed at the courthouse, which has space for about 15 people in a ceremony room. Most of those celebrations will take place during the weeks of March 22 and March 29, Gurowitz said.
Normally, the courthouse has four to six weddings a day, but over the next several weeks they are expecting 10 to 12 per day.
Some courtrooms and judge's chambers may be used for the ceremonies, with the couple's OK. The court's official marriage
booklet has been updated so that the ceremony will end by pronouncing the couple "legally married" as opposed to "husband
More than 300 people applied for marriage licenses from Wednesday to Friday, almost all same-sex couples, Gurowitz said.