WENATCHEE — Ana Maria Spagna and Laurie Thompson were slightly out of breath and glowing with excitement when they showed up at the Chelan County Courthouse a few minutes after 9 a.m. today. They were the first same-sex couple to apply for a marriage license in the county on the first day same sex marriages became legal in Washington state after voters approved Referendum 74 last month.
“We’re first and we’re so proud. We came all the way from Stehekin,” said Spagna, 45.
“We met in Stehekin and have been waiting for this for 22 years. You wouldn’t think Stehekin would be a pick-up place,” said broadly smiling Thompson, 49.
Thompson wore a green T-shirt for the occasion with the outline of Washington state and a heart. Around the image were the words “Love Wins.” Spagna wore a dark brown T-shirt that read “Get Engaged, Approve R-74.” The two met while working for the National Park Service. Thompson still works for the service and oversees the historic Buckner Orchard. Spagna is an award-winning author and teacher who has written about their long relationship in her books.
“Do you want to be spouse A or B?” Spagna asked Thompson with a laugh.
Thompson said she always knew the day would come when they would be able to marry. Spagna said she was more skeptical.
If things go according to plan, the two will marry midway on a ski run at Mission Ridge Ski and Board Resort Sunday, the first day they can legally marry after a three-day waiting period.
Nina Tapscott, manager of Chelan County’s license and recording department, said she had no idea how many couples would come in today to apply for same sex marriage licenses, but she had told employees to prepare for a busy day. As of 9:30 a.m., Spagna and Thompson were the only ones applying.
By 10 a.m. today, auditors offices in Okanogan and Grant counties each had two applications for same-sex marriage licenses. Douglas County had zero. But there will likely be more. Rev. Laura Shennum of East Wenatchee’s Cascade Unitarian Universalist Fellowship church, said she’s scheduled to perform three same-sex marriages just this month.
“We’ve had a steady flow of inquiries so it could be a busy day. There could be some waiting involved,” Tapscott said. Marriage license filing usually takes 10 to 15 minutes each, sometimes longer, depending on the couple, she said.
Although Chelan County is a conservative area compared to more urban counties in the state, Tapscott said a lot of people come to popular tourist and scenic areas like Leavenworth and Lake Chelan to make their marriage vows.
The county followed state Department of Health guidelines in making changes to its Certificate of Marriage forms. Forms now include spaces for Person A and Person B in asking for legal names. Participants can check a box that identifies them as bride, groom or simply spouse.
The county also made minor changes to a ceremonial certificate based on a 1899 certificate. The revised version omits a biblical reference to man and wife.
“We’re very excited. This is a whole new era,” said Tapscott.
Rick Steigmeyer: 664-7151