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First gay couples marry in Washington

Darlene Garner (L) and Candy Holmes embrace after they exchanged marriage vows during their wedding ceremony at the Human Rights Campaign building in Washington on March 9, 2010. In December 2009, the DC Council approved a bill that would allow for same-sex marriages to be performed in the District. Today, same-sex couples were able to obtain marriage licenses they applied for last week. UPI/Alexis C. Glenn
Darlene Garner (L) and Candy Holmes embrace after they exchanged marriage vows during their wedding ceremony at the Human Rights Campaign building in Washington on March 9, 2010. In December 2009, the DC Council approved a bill that would allow for same-sex marriages to be performed in the District. Today, same-sex couples were able to obtain marriage licenses they applied for last week. UPI/Alexis C. Glenn | License Photo

WASHINGTON, March 9 (UPI) -- At least 15 same-sex couples were waiting Tuesday morning to pick up their marriage licenses in Washington and then hold their weddings.

While the final process was quick, many had been waiting for years for official recognition of their relationships. Angelisa Young and Sinjoyla Townsend, the first couple to apply for a license last Wednesday, told The Washington Post they met when they were on opposite sides in a debate in a constitutional law class at the District of Columbia University 12 years ago.

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Mayor Adrian Fenty, who signed the same-sex marriage ordinance, toasted the married couples with champagne.

James Betz and Robert Hawthorne, who met almost four years ago, arrived at the Superior Court building at 3:30 a.m. They were married outside the courthouse by the Rev. Bonnie Berger, a chaplain at George Washington Hospital.

Hawthorne's father, also named Robert, took the train from New York to witness the ceremony.

"This is one of the happiest days of my life," the father said.

For the most part, the morning was calm. U.S. marshals escorted a woman from the building when she began warning the couples waiting in line that God would not recognize their marriages.

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