Same-sex marriages now legal, county officials expect increase in marriage license applications

Published on Wed, Nov 28, 2012 by Ian Ferguson

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The Whatcom County Auditor’s Office is planning extended hours December 6, 7 and 8 to accommodate a predicted increase of marriage license applications. December 6 is the first day licenses can be issued to same-sex couples in Washington state, a result of voters approving Referendum 74 in the November election.

The office will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Thursday, December 6 and Friday, December 7. On Saturday, December 8, the office will be open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Regular hours from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. will resume on Monday, December 10.

According to the auditor’s office, marriage licenses will be issued on a first-come, first-served basis. Applicants must enter their information on a computer screen before proceeding to checkout, but extra computer stations will be on hand during the extended hours.

County auditor Debbie Adelstein said the extra hours and computer stations are in response to “the buzz around town that several couples have been waiting for this moment to arrive.” She said the Whatcom County Auditor’s Office normally processes 3-4 applications for marriage licenses per day at this time of year, with higher numbers in the summer months. 

“Our efforts the first couple of days are just to have space available to process promptly, and not to have a long line if one should occur,” Adelstein said.

Applicants for marriage licenses in Washington state do not have to be residents of the state, but Adelstein said she isn’t expecting an influx of out-of-staters in Bellingham. She added that auditors in Seattle may see more applicants due to its larger airport.

Washington state has a three-day waiting period before licenses can be used, making December 9 the first day same-sex couples will be able to legally marry. The license is valid for 60 days and costs $58.

The Whatcom County Auditor Office is located at 311 Grand Street, Suite 103, Bellingham. For more information, call 360/676-6740 or visit co.whatcom.wa.us/auditor/marriages.