Same-sex weddings now comprise 17 percent of all Washington state marriages
First U.S. state to legalize such unions sees uptick in such unions
Same-sex weddings made up 17 percent of marriages in Washington in the past year. Among the first in the continental United States to recognize such unions, the statistics come on the heel of the first year such marriages were rendered legal.
Voters approved a measure last November legalizing the unions. Along with Maryland and Maine, Washington became one of the first states to approve same-sex marriage by popular vote. The majority of Washington's same-sex marriages, 62 percent, have been between two women.
Washington is one of 15 states plus the District of Columbia where gay marriage is legal. Since same-sex unions remain a new phenomenon in most of these states, the figures in Washington are seen as an exception.
There were about 152,335 same-sex married couples and 440,989 same-sex unmarried couples in the United States, according to the 2010 Census.
The first state to legalize gay marriage, Massachusetts, 8,181 same-sex couples were married. Between May 2004 and the end of 2012, 22,406 homosexual and lesbian couples were wed in Massachusetts. State officials wish to remind the public that these numbers are close estimates but not perfectly accurate, since gender information was not properly entered on every marriage certificate.
In California, the UCLA School of Law's Williams Institute estimated 18,000 gay couples married in 2008, when same-sex marriage was legal for four and a half months. These figures are not based on marriage license information as California, like many states, does not request gender information on license applications.
In the five years before Washington's same-sex marriage law, the state had a system of civil unions that was jokingly called "everything but marriage." Only 9,500 couples registered themselves as domestic partners, including about 950 who were not gay, state Rep. Jamie Pedersen, D-Seattle, says. One of the main sponsors of the Washington state law that led to gay marriage, he said that the wedding numbers were higher than he expected.
"In terms of the uptake in marriages, that's a remarkable number," he said.
He expressed satisfaction that two of his wishes came true: that gay marriage would drive tourism, and that there was considerable interest in the institution among couples from across the state.
All but one of Washington's 39 counties - Garfield County - reported same-sex marriages during the first 10 months of the law. About a quarter of the gay couples who got married this past year in Washington were from another state. The majority, 524, came from Oregon.
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Respect for Women: That all cultures may respect the rights and dignity of women.
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