WA’s First Marriage License Goes To Lesbian Couple Together 35 Years

Seattle’s Pete-e Petersen, 85, and Jane Abbott Lighty, 77, have been together for over 35 years and thought they would die without getting legally married. But at midnight on Thursday, they became the first same-sex couple to receive marriage licenses in the state of Washington.

The two women met on a blind date, set up by a mutual friend, on January 13, 1977.

Before they sat down for dinner at an old town restaurant in Sacramento, Jane snuck a peak of her date from the parking lot. She thought Pete-e was “cute” and “short” and the two, as Petersen put it, “just hit it off.”

Debunking that myth of lesbian courtship, they moved in together two weeks later.

Almost overnight they had a full house, with two dogs a cat and a 10-year-old girl — Petersen had adopted and was raising her sister’s daughter. Lighty had baggage of her own, having been previously married to a man for two years. Still, they found domestic bliss together and in 1986 moved to Seattle.

“Of course, we were in the so-called closet,” Petersen said. “Fortunately, we’re blessed by nice looks so people didn’t know right off the bat we were gay or homosexuals.”

They slowly came out in the late 90s, initially supporting a gay men’s choral group, the Seattle Men’s Chorus. Then in the early 200s, they started the lesbian equivalent, the Seattle Women’s Chorus. In 2005, the same year they appeared in the documentary, Inlwaws & Outlaws, Lighty and Petersen were married in a church wedding.

This Sunday they will do it all over again, but with that all-important piece of paper between them, when they marry before the Seattle Men’s Chorus and Seattle Women’s Chorus onstage at Benaroya Hall, home to the Seattle Symphony Orchestra.

“It’s been a long journey,” Petersen said. “We’re just blessed with the people we’ve met and the opportunities we’ve had.”

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  • 1EqualityUSA

    Congratulations. Some day we’ll be recognized Federally. Enjoy married life. Thanks for being out and proud.

  • John Doe

    They were the first same-sex couple in KING COUNTY, Washington (Seattle) to get a marriage license, not the first in Washington State. Another county was also handing out licenses at 12:01am last night.

    Either way, about 300 couples have received marriage licenses thus far. Most of these people were at the 12:01am openings to get them. We’ll probably see another 100 – 200 couples pick up licenses during the day today. Weddings will begin on Sunday.

  • Daniel-Reader


  • Lyceius

    Good for them. It’s great that they were able to finally get married after all those years together :). I live in Maine so I hope to have one myself soon… Hoping to get the question popped on Christmas :)

  • WayDifferent

    Now set an example. Don’t wind up on Judge Judy in 9 months.

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