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.”