It was a historic morning for dozens of gay couples who woke up before dawn Wednesday to apply for marriage licenses on the first day same-sex unions were legalized in the District. "It's amazing," said Sheri Handerhan, who was at the D.C. Superior courthouse picking up a marriage license with her girlfriend of four years, Kelly Morrison.
"We have our wedding pass, the wedding date set, family is coming. It's just like a regular wedding -- something we've waited for our whole lives." The mobbed courthouse hallway broke out into giddy applause as the first same-sex couple to apply walked out of the licensing office. For many couples who had been together for years, there was a sense of subdued anticipation as they were finally having their unions recognized equally in the eyes of the law.
"I feel like I have a validation as a person," said a teary-eyed Morrison.
Tom French, who was standing in line with his partner of three years said, "To be recognized as a full citizen -- it's about equality, and a sense of fairness."
His boyfriend Eric North added, "This is just a legal validation. You know, domestic partnership is all the romance of a piece of paper." Many of the couples have plans to get married Tuesday, which is the first day that the licenses will be valid under D.C. law. A bill to legalize gay marriage in the District was signed by Mayor Adrian Fenty in December, and after a 30-day congressional review process D.C. became the sixth jurisdiction in the country where same-sex unions are legal.
"We waited a long, long, long time for this. We've been together for 14 years," Jackie Michand explained while patiently waiting in line for the courthouse computer system to come back up and allow her to apply for the piece of paper validating her and Susan Hockensmith's decade-plus commitment. Neither the technical difficulties, nor the few protesters outside -- waving signs that included messages such as "America is Doomed" -- managed to bring the crowd's mood down.
"They are protesting on wrong grounds," French said. "It's a shame that they use those few passages in the Bible to sort of overlook the message of Christianity."