Thursday, October 31, 2013
Can I Get A Witness?
Gay City Health Project and the Greater Seattle Business Association (GSBA), the nation’s largest LGBT and allied chamber of commerce, are teaming up to bring you Can I Get a Witness?, a program for out-of-state couples who are traveling to Washington State to get married following the passing of Referendum 74 and the striking down of Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
In just the first three months 2013, more than 20% of the marriages conducted in the state were between same-sex couples, according to the Washington State Department of Health. 14% of those marriages were for couples who had traveled from other states. As Washington is one of thirteen states plus the District of Columbia that recognize marriage equality, the state has become a magnet for same-sex couples who are looking to formalize their relationships.
This formal recognition has become even more important with the Supreme Court’s ruling in the United States v Windsor case that Section 3 of DOMA is unconstitutional, thereby paving the way for federal recognition of same-sex marriages. Many, but not all, of the federal rights and responsibilities of marriage are being extended to legally married same-sex spouses regardless of the state in which they reside.
Since January, GSBA has been assisting dozens of out-of-state couples by providing witnesses for their ceremonies. Often these are couples who have been together for many years and who are finally being recognized as spouses. Couples have come to Seattle from states including Alabama, California, Idaho, Illinois, Montana, Oklahoma, Texas and Utah, as well as from Japan and the UK. Gay City has organized a list of willing volunteers who look forward to supporting couples who are traveling to the region to take advantage of the progressive laws that the community worked so hard to pass.
Gerardo Flores and Guadalupe Sandoval visited Seattle to get married in July. Gerardo remarked that, “When we contacted the judge, we told her we were very concerned because we did not have witnesses. She said ‘Not a problem, I'm going to give you a number, and they will take care of you.’ Boy, did they take care of us. They not only answered our initial call, but stayed in touch with us until the day of our wedding.”
For more information, or to arrange for witnesses at your ceremony, contact:
Chief Odood, firstname.lastname@example.org, or
Matt Landers email@example.com