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The King County Recorders Office is expecting hundreds of same-sex couples to be in line when county officials begin issuing marriage licenses just after midnight tonight. Large tents have been set up outside the King County administration building to accommodate license seekers.

King and Thurston counties both plan to open their offices at 12:01 a.m. Thursday -- when Washington s same-sex marriage law takes effect. County Executive Dow Constantine will be issuing them personally.

I am honored to be able to issue the first marriage license for same-sex couples, Constantine said on his Twitter account.

Because the state has a three-day waiting period, the earliest that marriage certificates can be signed at a wedding or ceremony, making the marriage valid, is Sunday.

Last month, 54 percent of Washington voters voted for Referendum 74 to affirm the state law legalizing same-sex marriage that legislators passed early this year. Gov. Chris Gregoire will sign same-sex marriage into law at a ceremony at 4 p.m. Wednesday.

Jane Lighty, 77, and her partner Pete-e Peterson, 85, plan to be one of the first couples in line. The two have been together for 35 years and never thought they would see the day when they could marry.

I turn to Pete-e sometimes and say, 'Is this a dream?' Lighty said.

Jane and Pete-e became domestic partners when Washington first passed the domestic partnership law in 2007. They were involved with the Referendum 74 campaign and now have plans to marry in a ceremony during intermission of the Seattle Men s Chorus concert on Sunday.

I think we've earned it, we've paid our dues, said Pete-e, a former military nurse who tears up thinking about Sunday. Everyday I turn to her and ask, Will you marry me? Now it s coming true.

Online:

Getting married at Seattle City Hall on Dec. 9

King County marriage license information

Pierce County marriage equality FAQ

Snohomish County same-sex marriage license info

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