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D.C. churches are exempt from having to perform same-sex wedding ceremonies. But the bill does not have the support of the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington, which has concerns about the cost of Catholic Charities having to extend services to spouses in same-sex marriages.

Same-sex marriage was approved last year in California, but the law later was struck down by a voter referendum.

Angelisa Young, 47, and Sinjoyla Townsend, 41, were the first couple in line Tuesday to apply for a marriage license. They arrived at the courthouse at 6 a.m.

“No matter where I go in the world now, when I say ‘I’m married’ somebody else will truly understand exactly what I’m talking about,” Ms. Young said. “It’s not gay, it’s not lesbian, it’s just a human right of being able to share love and enjoy each other. That’s basically all we’re asking for and we got it today.”

Ms. Young and Ms. Townsend will be married at the Human Rights Campaign building in Washington, D.C., in a non-denominational service Tuesday. They have been together for 12 years.