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Business still booming one year after voter approval of marriage equality


King County Executive
Dow Constantine

Business still booming one year after voter approval of marriage equality


Marriage license applications at King County Recorder's Office up 33% since law allowing same-sex couples to wed took effect


One year after voters approved a law allowing same-sex marriages in Washington state, the King County Recorder's Office has seen a 33% increase in the number of marriage license applications.

From Dec. 6, 2012, the first day that licenses could be issued to same-sex couples, through Nov. 30, 2013, 17,593 marriage licenses were issued by the Recorder's Office. That compares to just 13,223 licenses handed out during the same period in 2011-2012.

King County does not track the number of marriage licenses handed out to same-sex couples. However, according to the Washington State Department of Health, 3,452 marriage certificates were issued to same-sex couples in King County between December 2012 and September 2013.

"The numbers tell the tale: until last year, thousands of couples were being denied the right to marry the person they love," said King County Executive Dow Constantine. "We set the trend and now, just one year later, even the federal government recognizes legally-married same-sex couples. We are making great strides in the right direction."

To celebrate the law's first anniversary, the LGBT Pride Flag flew on the plaza of the King County Administration Building on Friday. One year ago, hundreds of same-sex couples lined up on the same plaza to be among the first to receive a marriage license. During a three-day marriage licensing event that ran from Dec. 6-8, 2012, 623 couples received licenses. On the first day of the "marathon," King County smashed the one-day record for issuing marriage licenses, with 489 handed out in a little over 18 hours.

"Last year's marriage licensing event was one of the highlights of my career in public service, and our staff enthusiastically responded to the unprecedented demand in those first three days," said Norm Alberg, director of the King County Records and Licensing Services Division. "Since then, issuing a marriage license to a same-sex couple has become 'business as usual' for us, even though we have experienced a substantial increase in the number of marriage license customers."

Now that California and Hawaii have joined Washington and 12 other states in allowing same-sex couples to marry, Alberg expects the marriage licensing business at the Recorder's Office to decline somewhat.

"Although the initial rush is over, we believe there is still some pent-up demand for marriage licenses among same-sex couples that will subside over the next year or so," Alberg added. "That said, King County's population is increasing every year, so natural growth is also adding to our licensing numbers."

For more information on marriage licensing in King County, visit

King County Executive
Dow Constantine
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