EAST WENATCHEE — “All you need is love,” sang the 80-strong congregation at the Cascade Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Church Saturday as Mary Timiras and Christina Davitt, hand-in-hand, made their way through an arch made up of outstretched arms.
The congregation sang the Beatles song badly, but with great feeling, happiness and laughter. And for good reason. Rev. Laura Shennum had just pronounced Timiras and Davitt legally married. At last, legally married.
“Love is divine. One hundred laws cannot prevent it. Love will prevail,” read young Libby Palmer from a text, “The Freedom to Marry,” during the 45-minute-long ceremony.
And perhaps it is true. After 20 years together, the two women were allowed to marry with the same legal privileges as a married heterosexual couple, thanks to last month’s passage of Referendum 74 in support of Washington’s same-gender marriage law.
“There’s still work to be done,” said Timiras. “We could go into Idaho tomorrow and we’re not married.” Only nine states in the nation allow marriage between same sex couples. Washington, Maryland and Maine all passed new laws in November. Some other states allow domestic partnerships that offer similar benefits as legal marriages. But most states still do not, nor does the federal government. In some states same-sex marriage is against the law.
The two women know all about that. Talk about commitment, Timiras, 56, a geriatric medicine specialist at Wenatchee Valley Medical Center, and Davitt, 53, lead attorney for Davitt Law Group in Wenatchee, have both tied the knot before. Four times before they’ve taken the plunge. To each other every time. All were marriages of a sort, although this is the first official marriage in a state where same-gender marriage has been upheld by lawmakers and the public.
The two women met at a clinic in New Jersey in 1992 when Timiras was hired as a geriatric doctor there. Davitt was working at the clinic as a nurse practitioner at the time, before she changed careers to become an attorney. The two hit it off and became partners the following year.
They celebrated with a ceremony of union in Montclair, N.J., on May 20, 1995. It was a big, formal wedding with all the trimmings. When civil unions between same sex partners became legal in Vermont, they went through civil union proceedings there, on June 2001. The two owned a vacation home there and were legal residents.
They returned to New Jersey and completed paperwork for a legal domestic partnership which had become legal there, followed by a wedding celebration on July 28, 2001.
Timiras was recruited and hired by Wenatchee Valley Medical Center in 2009, prompting the couple’s move out west. They filed paperwork for a legal domestic partnership in Washington that same year.
According to the same-gender marriage law approved in this state last November, domestic partners will automatically become married in 2014, unless they object.
“Even though we didn’t have to do this, we wanted to. It’s our choice to do this for each other and for our community,” Timiras said. In addition to their close friends in the Unitarian congregation, participants included the foreign exchange student, Jane, who has been living with them, and Kandi, their foster child, whom they hope to soon adopt.
The couple were among the first in the valley to get their marriage license Dec. 6, the first day licenses were offered to same-sex couples. The first couple was Ana Maria Spagna and Laurie Thompson of Stehekin, who showed up the first hour the Chelan County Recording office opened that day. They were also probably the first couple in the valley who legally married, at Mission Ridge Ski and Board Resort on Dec. 9.
Nina Tapscott, Chelan County Recording office manager, said nine out of 41 marriage licenses issued since Dec. 6 have been to same-sex applicants. It’s unknown how many of those couples, besides Timiras and Davitt and Spagna and Thompson, have since married, she said.
Rev. Shennum said she has performed one other same-sex marriage this month. “But I’ve had a lot of inquiries. More want to do it, but the excitement gets tangled up with the intentionality,” she said, referring to wedding details.
With so many ceremonies, the biggest problem now for Timiras and Davitt may be in figuring out when to celebrate their anniversary.
“I don’t know. I don’t know,” said an excited Davitt moments after the wedding. “This was a good one though.”
Rick Steigmeyer: 664-7151