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December 5th, 2012 MATTHEW KORFHAGE | Featured Stories
 

Rainbow Connection

Where to get hitched for Vancouver’s first same-sex unions.

couv_3905(married)_matthew_korfhage_articleILLUSTRATION: kungfutoast.com
The Clark County Recording and Marriage License Department is preparing for a flood. On Dec. 6, gay and lesbian couples can file for marriage licenses in Washington for the first time. 

Recording manager Paul Harris says his office is preparing based on the crush Multnomah County experienced in 2004 when it briefly issued marriage licenses for same-sex couples.

“I would say at least a thousand people on the first day, if not more,” Harris says. “We’re putting on extra staff. We’ve dedicated five counters. We’re getting stanchions so we can have lines.”

In addition, the office will have extended hours until 7 pm on Dec. 6-7, and be open from 9 am to noon on Saturday, Dec. 8.

To get a marriage license in Clark County, both would-be spouses must show up at Harris’ office (1300 Franklin St., Vancouver) with photo IDs and $64 in cash.

Harris is looking forward to it. As he told The Oregonian this week, he says he plans to grant Clark County’s first same-sex marriage license to himself and his partner.

“I’ve had a partner for 40 years,” he tells WW. “How much more married can you get?”

So where does a newly enfranchised couple get hitched in Vancouver? A few suggestions:


The No-Frills Edition

Clark County District Court, 1200 Franklin St., Vancouver, 360-397-2010.

The gist: Judges perform ceremonies after 4:30 pm Monday through Friday. Couples are required to call for an appointment and bring two witnesses. 

The cost: You can get your marriage on here for a mere $50, cash on the barrel. 

Gay weddings?: All equal under the law, folks. An extra judge is slated to handle the expected high volume during the week of Dec. 10.


The Lawn Gazebo

Esther Short Park, 610 Esther Street, Vancouver, 360-487-8630, cityofvancouver.us. 

The gist: Founded in 1853, Esther Short Park is the most storied public patch of lawn in Washington state—or at least the oldest—in a surrounding ’hood that looks a bit like small-town Kansas with condos and a Hilton. Reservations online or over the phone.

The cost: $115 an hour, plus a $1,300 deposit.

Gay weddings?: Sure. According to Stacey Donovan, special events coordinator with the City of Vancouver, the department was considering opening part of the park for free to anyone who wanted to get married on Sunday, Dec. 9; in the meantime, however, an anonymous donor has come forward with funds to open the stage pavilion for weddings on that day.


The Church Wedding

Unitarian Universalist Church of Vancouver, 4505 E 18th St., Vancouver, 360-695-1891, msuuf.org.

The gist: The Unitarians have long been one of the most liberal of Christian denominations, boasting the first openly gay minister and bishop in the United States. The Vancouver branch is equally welcoming, and offers a church sanctuary with a 275-person capacity. The church also has large grounds to accommodate outdoor weddings.

The cost: Currently under revision, but will be comparable to other churches in the area.

Gay weddings?: “Oh, absolutely,” says board vice president Susan O’Toole. “Everybody’s really excited about it.” 


The Unchurch

The Academy Chapel, 400 E Evergreen Blvd., Suite 216, Vancouver, 360-696-4884, academychapel.com.

The gist: This ornate, stacked wedding cake of a chapel originally opened to serve a Catholic Young Ladies Academy in 1874. The French-Carpenter-Gothic chapel, which features a three-story altar and a rear balcony in case Dustin Hoffman shows up, is now an entirely secular BYO-minister marriage spot available for rental. It’s like a Catholic wedding without all the Catholics. 

The cost: During winter, $375-$875.

Gay weddings?: “We’ve got one coming up next month,” says manager Vickie Greenleaf.


The Top Gun Wedding

Pearson Air Museum, 1115 E 5th St., Vancouver, 360-694-7026, pearsonairmuseum.org.

The gist: The grounds of the former territory’s old Fort Vancouver outpost offer more traditional wedding environs at the old manse of Gen. George Marshall—author of the plan to rebuild Europe after World War II. But at the fort’s Pearson Air Museum, you can get married in a capacious airplane hangar amid the planes of yesteryear, which have been strung from the ceiling in simulated, glorious flight. It’s a bit more muscular a metaphor than just releasing a dove.

The cost: $1,200 for a weekend wedding.

Gay weddings?: “No problem,” says director of programs Cara Cantonwine. “We do not discriminate.”  


Correction and update: The print edition of Willamette Week correctly attributed the information about Esther Short Park to Stacey Donovan, special events coordinator of the City of Vancouver. However, the Web edition used an earlier version of the text in which the information was incorrectly attributed to Stacey Allington. Also, since WW spoke to Ms. Donovan, an anonymous donor contributed funds to open the stage pavilion section of Esther Short Park for same-sex wedding ceremonies on December 9. 

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