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Saturday, February 14, 2004 - Page updated at 12:45 A.M.
Gay couples wed unofficially at Washington state college
Curious onlookers in sweatshirts, jeans and backpacks joined enthusiastic supporters who filled the central seating area in the student union for the double ceremony Thursday.
Friends, students earning extra credit for a sociology class and strangers took photographs and sipped lattes as the couples exchanged vows at about the same time as the issuing of the first marriage licenses to same-sex couples in San Francisco.
Megan Fuhlman, 22, a senior, said she married Nicole Carpenter, 24, a local resident, "because I love her and I wanted to send a message that (gay marriage) is OK." They said they had been together about six months.
The ceremony was more of a political act for Armando Gonzalez, 22, a sophomore, and Chris Worley, 18, who lives in Sammamish in the suburbs east of Seattle, about a 90-mile drive on Interstate 90. They are not dating but exchanged vows to "put a face" on the issue for their friends, Gonzalez said.
Despite the string ensemble, unity candles and wedding cake, the rites carried no legal weight because gay marriages are illegal in Washington state.
A few students distributed fliers denouncing gay marriage as "an atrocity to conservative values" and seeking support to "help bring conservative values back to CWU" but got little overt support.
During the ceremony the Rev. Jane Newall of the Rainbow Cathedral Metropolitan Community Church in Yakima had the two couples "turn around and see the support you have for what you're doing here today."
There have been similar ceremonies in past years on National Freedom to Marry Day, but this one carried more weight because of the San Francisco marriage licenses and a Massachusetts court ruling that gives same-sex couples the right to marry in that state, Newall said.
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