Mid-Columbia auditors don't plan added hours as gay marriage law takes effect

By Sara Schilling, Tri-City HeraldDecember 6, 2012 

The Benton and Franklin county auditor's offices won't be open extra hours today, unlike some of their counterparts around the state that are expecting long lines of gay and lesbian couples seeking marriage licenses and certificates.

Washington's new same-sex marriage law takes effect today. Benton County Auditor Brenda Chilton said her office has received about a half-dozen inquiries about marriage licenses from same-sex couples, leaving officials feeling they can manage with normal hours.

It's the same story in Franklin County, where the auditor's office had received fewer than a dozen inquiries as of Wednesday afternoon.

"In the event we have a significant number of people coming in, we've got plenty of staff. We don't anticipate any issues," said Chief Deputy Auditor Jeff Burckhard.

Officials in other parts of the state were anticipating a rush.

In Pierce County, which includes the city of Tacoma, the auditor's office Wednesday gave couples numbers to hold their spots in line, The News Tribune reported.

"It's amazing to have something like this," Miguel Rico, 38, of Tacoma, told the paper after getting a number. "It's amazing to be the first people to be part of history in this state."

In Thurston County, the auditor's office planned to open at 12:01 a.m. today and issue 10 licenses, and then reopen with extended hours at 7 a.m., The Associated Press reported. Thurston County includes the city of Olympia.

King County also planned extended hours, The Associated Press reported.

-- Sara Schilling: 582-1529; sschilling@tricityherald.com

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