Marriage license given at site of Seattle rights struggle
As hundreds of gay couples waited for marriage licenses at the King County Administration building early Thursday morning, some workers there noted it was the same place where a pioneering gay couple was denied one 41 years ago. On Sept. 20, 1971, John Singer and Paul Barwick went to the county office for a marriage license. The couple planned their request as a way to get visibility for a subject "no one would speak about," Barwick told seattlepi.com in 2009. "We knew they weren't going to give us one, but damn it, they were going to have to tell us no to escort us out the door," recalled Barwick, who was 24. Their protest made national headlines. Singer, who later changed his name to Faygele benMiriam, was outspoken on gay rights. He told newspaper and television reporters about the quest for a marriage license, gave radio interviews and later painted "Gay Power" on the windows of his car. King County Auditor Lloyd Hara – the man who is now County Assessor – declined Singer and Barwick's request to marry, which led to Singer v. Hara. A King County Superior Court judge and the state Court of Appeal rejected Singer's claim that the marriage license denial was unconstitutional.