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Originally published Monday, February 13, 2012 at 8:51 PM

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Songs and cheers mark signing of gay-marriage law for state

Seattle was the scene of celebration Monday night after Gov. Chris Gregoire signed a bill making same-sex marriage legal in Washington state.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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Rarely has a writing implement evoked such wild applause.

But when Pete-e Petersen held aloft a pen used to sign Washington state's gay-marriage law Monday, the crowd at Seattle's Plymouth Congregational Church erupted into the night's loudest standing ovation.

On stage were more than 300 singers, members of both the Seattle Men's Chorus and the Seattle Women's Chorus. Almost 1,000 more people packed into the pews.

Festivities began with The Beatles' anthem of innocent love, "I Want to Hold Your Hand."

The Rev. Brigetta Remole, senior minister, then addressed those assembled.

"We (the church) believe God's love transcends all human distinctions," she said, adding, "I'd be honored to officiate at your wedding."

Paul Rosenberg said he and his partner, Eric Lane Barnes, planned earlier in the year to mark their 20th anniversary by getting married in Canada. But as momentum for gay marriage built among state lawmakers, Rosenberg said they decided to hold off.

Rosenberg said Monday night he felt giddy. "It's the first place I've lived where I felt represented," he said.

Daniel Jung and Richard Newman brought their 9-month-old son, Kaspian, to the church, where the toddler put up well with the heat, singing and speeches that went past his bedtime.

Jung said he and Newman are planning to be married Aug. 15, their anniversary. Of their son, he added: "I'm just happy he's going to grow up in a state that took the initiative to be equal."

The choruses then broke into "A Little Help From My Friends," another anthemic Beatles tune.

That's just what will be needed, Seattle City Council President Sally Clark said, to protect the same-sex marriage law from those who will try to rescind it.

Raising a glass of Champagne to "love, laughter and happily ever after," Clark, Seattle's first openly gay council president, sounded a rallying cry earlier in the evening at Capitol Hill's Wild Rose bar.

"Enjoy tonight," she told the group at the small bar. After that, "be busy, get out there, support this."

Clark and her partner, Liz Ford, have been together 14 years and are registered domestic partners. Clark said they are going to discuss whether marriage is right for them.

"But at least the law allows LGBT couples to have that conversation," she said.

Shelley Brothers, co-owner of Wild Rose, described her feeling about the events of the day as "happy, but guarded — because I know it will be a fight and get ugly."

Longtime domestic partners Vivian Robb and Que Areste were cautiously happy about the events of the day.

"It is a celebration, it is a milestone, it isn't a total victory," Robb said. "But we're extremely happy to have the opportunity to marry."

As to whether they actually would tie the knot: Que said, "We don't know; we're still talking about it."

"We originally said we wouldn't marry until it is a national right." said Robb, 67. "Now, I'm not sure I'll live that long."

Bob Young: 206-464-2174

or byoung@seattletimes.com

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