Nearly 17% of Wash. marriages in 2013 have been same-sex

The rate in Walla Walla and Columbia counties was roughly 10 percent, and Garfield County reported none.

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WALLA WALLA — Nearly a year after the ink dried on Washington state’s same-sex marriage law, 7,071 same-sex couples were among the 42,408 couples who married in the state through September, the latest statistics show.

In Walla Walla County, 39 out of 352 marriages were between same-sex couples, and Columbia County had four same-sex marriages out of 42 total.

Garfield County is the alone in the state in reporting no same-sex marriages, Department of Health officials said Thursday.

According to the state numbers, 62 percent of same-sex weddings were between women.

The top five Washington counties where same-sex marriages occurred were King County with 3,452; Clark County — which borders Oregon — with 785; Pierce County with 486; Snohomish County with 330; and Thurston County with 300 marriages.

It also appears Washington’s same-sex marriage law is drawing people to the state to marry, said Donn Moyer, department spokesman.

In 24 percent of same-sex marriages in the reporting year, both spouses lived in another state. There were 524 same-sex-marriages in which both parties lived in Oregon, in 170 the couples lived in Texas, and in another 155 the couples lived in California.

Among opposite-sex couples, both spouses were from another state in only 6 percent of marriages.

There was a burst of same-sex wedding activity when the law went into effect in December 2012, noted Tim Church, spokesman for the Department of Health. Activity spiked again in July, August and September, he said.

“I don’t think it’s a coincidence. Couples know it’s less likely to rain in those months. August alone had 1,212 same-sex weddings,” he said. “I think a lot of people got married when the law passed and others said, ‘I’m going to wait to have a big summer wedding.’”

Each person getting married in Washington can choose whether they would like their marriage certificate to refer to them as bride, groom or spouse — within both male and female same-sex marriages, most choose the term spouse.

On June 30, all Washington same-sex registered domestic partnerships will be converted to same-sex marriages unless at least one partner is 62 years of age or older, the couple has gotten legally married, or the couple has legally dissolved their partnership.

Sheila Hagar can be reached at sheilahagar@wwub.com or 526-8322.

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