OLYMPIA, Washington — More than 2,400 gay and lesbian couples have gotten married in Washington state since the state's voter-approved same-sex marriage law took effect last December, according to numbers released Thursday by the state.
The data released by the state Department of Health covers same-sex marriages from when licenses first were issued in early December until the end of March. Individual counties had released same-sex marriage numbers previously, but the Department of Health's numbers are the first statewide look at how many people took advantage of the new law.
According to the Department of Health:
—Same-sex marriages occurred in 35 of the state 39 counties during the December-end of March timeframe.
—Same-sex marriages represented more than 20 percent of the 11,661 marriages that took place during that same period of time.
—King County had the highest number of same-sex marriages.
—63 percent of same-sex marriages were female couples.
—14 percent of the weddings were for couples who had traveled to Washington state from other states.
Washington state is one of 12 states, plus Washington, D.C., where same-sex marriage is legal. Minnesota is the most recent state to allow same-sex couples to marry after Gov. Mark Dayton signed legislation into law May 14, and couples there started picking up their marriage licenses on Thursday.
In November, nearly 54 percent of voters in Washington state approved a referendum that had asked them to either approve or reject the state law legalizing same-sex marriage that lawmakers passed earlier in the year.
The law took effect on Dec. 6, when hundreds of gay and lesbian couples picked up their marriage licenses. But because of the state's three-day waiting period, the earliest weddings started taking place was on Dec. 9. Numerous weddings took place across the state, both private and public, with the largest event hosted by Seattle City Hall, where more than 130 couples took part.
After all marriages, counties send marriage certificates to the state Department of Health. Spokesman Tim Church said that March is the most recent month the state has complete numbers for because it takes some time for the certificates to get from the counties and entered into the system. Church said that future reports will be released annually.