In the wake of a landmark Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality, more than 300 King County employees, along with their families and friends, joined together to march in the Seattle Pride Parade on June 28. Tens of thousands of people decked out in rainbow colors thronged Fourth Avenue in downtown Seattle to support the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community and celebrate the decision that legalized same-sex marriage in all 50 states.
The One King County group was one of the largest in this year’s parade, wearing bright “Equity for All” T-shirts. King County Executive Dow Constantine led the contingent, which also showcased the services that King County provides to residents such as marriage licensing. In 2012, King County issued licenses to nearly 700 couples in three days after voters approved marriage equality in that year’s election.
“One of my proudest moments was issuing the first marriage license to a same-sex couple in Washington state,” Executive Constantine said.
While King County has long had a presence in the Pride Parade, this was the first time that all agencies participated as a unified group rather than as separate units. Frank Chaffee and Diane Ferrero with Public Health’s HIV/STD Program led the organizing, with every department and agency chipping in on banners, signs, and giveaways.
By all accounts, the “One King County” Pride effort was very successful. Jesse Chipps, who works in Public Health, summed the celebration up with three simple words: “Best Pride Ever!”
Just two days before the Pride Parade, Executive Constantine was joined by County Councilmembers Larry Phillips, Jane Hague, and Dave Upthegrove to raise a rainbow-striped Pride Flag above the King County Administration Plaza. Sheriff John Urquhart and Seattle Mayor Ed Murray also participated in the event, which was attended by about 100 King County employees and community supporters. The flag raising took place hours after the Supreme Court decision on marriage equality was released, which added to the festive atmosphere.
“We are no longer required to distinguish marriage as gay or straight – we can just say and celebrate marriage,” said Council Chair Phillips. “Today is a great day for equality, and for America.”
“Civil rights, and gay rights in particular, are an important part of what makes the United States great – what makes it a place where people want to come and live from all over the world,” said Council Vice Chair Hague.
“I’m proud that Washington state helped lead the way and am thankful for the leaders and citizens who worked so hard and for so long to pave the way for this important achievement,” Councilmember Upthegrove said.