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Gay, lesbian Washington state couples get marriage licenses

BY MANUEL VALDES AND RACHEL LA CORTE, ASSOCIATED PRESS

SEATTLE -- Two by two, dozens of same-sex couples obtained their marriage licenses in Washington state early Thursday, just hours after Gov. Chris Gregoire signed a voter-approved law legalizing gay marriage.

King County, the state's biggest county, opened the doors to its auditor's office in Seattle just after midnight PST to start distributing marriage licenses. But hundreds of people had lined up hours earlier, snaking around the downtown Seattle building on a chilly December night. By 6 a.m., 279 licenses had been issued and the line was gone.

"We knew it was going to happen, but it's still surreal," said Amanda Dollente, who along with her partner, Kelly Middleton, began standing in line at 4 p.m. Wednesday.

Washington state now joins several other states that allow gay and lesbian couples to wed. Gregoire and Secretary of State Sam Reed certified the election on Wednesday afternoon, as they were joined by couples who plan to wed and community activists who worked on the campaign supporting gay marriage.

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