First Day for D.C. Same-Sex Weddings

Sinjoyla Townsend, left, and Angelisa Young walk through cheers and down the aisle as a married couple on Tuesday, March 9, 2010, the first day that gay marriage is legal in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin
AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin
Last Updated 11:23 a.m. ET

One bride wore a knee-length lace dress and pearls. The other bride wore a yellow shirt and white suit.

And when a pastor pronounced them "partners in life this day and for always" Tuesday they hugged and smiled as wedding guests and nearly a dozen TV cameras and reporters looked on.

Tuesday was the first day same-sex couples could marry in Washington. Brides Angelisa Young and Sinjoyla Townsend were the first of three couples taking the plunge in morning ceremonies at the offices of the Human Rights Campaign, which does advocacy work on gay, lesbian and transgender issues. Other ceremonies were planned throughout the day.

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 were also coming Tuesday to apply for licenses.

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 marrying and said, "Congratulations to the couples on this historic day."

D.C. bakery Cakelove supplied a three-tiered butter-cream frosted cake with a fresh strawberry filling for each couple.

About 150 couples were eligible to pick up marriage licenses Tuesday after applying on the first day the licenses were made available. Many of them stood in line for four or more hours last Wednesday. Townsend and Young were the first in line that day.

The District of Columbia 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.

Couples had a variety of plans for their ceremonies. One couple planned to marry Tuesday at All Souls Church - the Unitarian Universalist house of worship where Mayor Adrian Fenty in December signed the bill legalizing the unions.

District residents Eva Townsend and Shana McDavis-Conway said they were planning a wedding Tuesday 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, courthouse spokeswoman Leah Gurowitz said.

Normally, the courthouse hosts four to six weddings a day, but over the next several weeks they are expecting 10 to 12 per day because of the demand for same-sex ceremonies. 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 and wife."

More than 300 people applied for marriage licenses from Wednesday to Friday, almost all same-sex couples, Gurowitz said.
By Associated Press Writer Jessica Gresko