By San Juan Journal and Sounder staff
It's the two words Robert Herrmann used to describe how he felt when Referendum 74 was passed by voters.
“I am ecstatic and elated and befuddled,” he said. “I am still in shock and awe. I feel gobsmacked. There was a huge win for marriage equality across the country.”
Herrmann, who lives on Lopez, has been with his partner Ron Hall for 16 years.
This morning, they made their relationship official by being one of four same-sex couples to receive a marriage license at the San Juan County Auditor’s Office in Friday Harbor. A couple that wishes to remain anonymous received the first license and were followed by Anne Hietbrink and Beth Shirk of Lopez, Karen Kuster and Susan Moon of San Juan and Herrmann and Hall. Today marks voter-approved Referendum 74 formally taking effect around the state.
“This is affirming. I feel like a full citizen now,” Herrmann said. “Straight people don't have the experience of being called names and ridiculed.”
Governor Christine Gregoire signed the marriage bill last February.
That bill prompted Referendum 74, which 53.7 percent of Washington voters approved while 46.3 percent rejected it in last month’s election.
In San Juan County, the measure was overwhelmingly approved: 70 percent to 30 percent.
Referendum 74 allows gay couples to marry and preserves domestic partnerships for seniors and the right of religious organizations to refuse to perform or recognize any marriage ceremony. The marriage license costs $60 and is good for 60 days.
Washington joins these states in legalizing same-sex marriage: Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and Vermont.