Category Archives: Marriage

KRL hands out “catch and release” books

You’ve heard the term “catch and release” used by fishermen (and -women). Here it is applied to books.

Kitsap Regional Library staff members will tour the county Saturday to “release” special copies of KRL’s One Book, One Community selection to the public.

More than 100 copies of “The Leisure Seeker,” by Michael Zadoorian, will be handed out, free and available to keep … or release to bring others enjoyment.

The books are not part of the library’s collection and don’t need to be returned. They were purchased with funds from the KRL Foundation. Each comes with special labeling urging temporary owners to enjoy and share.

The label on the cover of each book says, “Read & Release. Take this Book. Details inside.” Inside the front cover is another label explaining the One Book, One Community program, coming up in October, which gets the whole community on the same page, so to speak. Online discussion of the chosen book and book groups around the county draw readers together.

Each “read and release” book has a unique identification number that has been registered at Readers can use that number to record their comments on the book, see the path it has taken through the community and to note where they have released it for the next person to take.

The “read and release” effort is aimed at getting people jazzed about the One Book, One Community program, said library Spokesman Jeff Brody. Copies of the book also will be available for checkout from the library.

The Leisure Seeker,” announced in March as KRL’s One Book selection for 2013, is “a story about making the most of your time, a celebration of love and partnership, of Old Route 66 and the challenges of modern life,” according to a KRL news release. A couple, married 50 years, “goes on the lam against doctors’ orders and the wishes of their grown children, piling into their RV, the Leisure Seeker, to take one last road trip together.”

“KRL hopes to encourage more people to read this thought-provoking book by releasing these extra copies into the community and urging people who find them to read them and pass them along to family, friends or neighbors,” Brody said.

Copies of the book will be released Saturday at the following locations and events:
8 a.m.: A Port Orchard senior center (will it be yours?)
9 a.m.: Poulsbo Farmers Market
10:30 a.m.: Bainbridge Farmers Market or other Bainbridge location (they want to keep you guessing)
3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.: Silverdale Whaling Days Festival

For more information on the special release of “The Leisure Seeker” copies in the community, contact KRL Marketing Manager Jeannie Allen, (360) 475-9033

County employee toasts same-sex couples with coffee

Thursday morning came earlier for some than others. By 8 a.m., at least a dozen same-sex couples were lined up at the Kitsap County Auditor’s Office seeking marriage licenses. At least one couple had waited outside the county administration building in Port Orchard since 6:30 a.m. for a watershed moment in their lives and the state’s history.

With the passage of Referendum-74, supporting legislation allowing same-sex marriage in Washington State, Thursday was the first day same sex couples could apply to wed. The auditor saw double the business for a typical winter day.

“We are amazed, ecstatic and amazed,” said Mel Wensel, 52, of Port Orchard, who has been in a committed relationship with her partner Traia Wensel, 45, for 12 years. The couple from Port Orchard were the early birds who got there at 6:30 a.m., and they were the first Kitsap County same-sex couple to receive a marriage license.

The early hour and the significance of the day were not lost on county employee Dana Coggon, in charge of the county’s Noxious Weed program, to eradicate invasive vegetation. Coggon showed up with a carafe of Starbucks and offered a cuppa to those embarking on a new chapter of their lives.

“It was warming my heart to see people stand in line, so I thought, ‘Why not bring coffee?'” Coggon said.

The simple act of kindness hit a little closer to home for Coggen, a Tacoma resident. Although everyone in her immediate (albeit tiny) staff knows of Coggen is lesbian, Thursday’s coffee handout was her workplace coming out.

Coggon hasn’t advertised her sexual orientation one way or another at work. “I don’t think my sexual orientation has anything to do with how I do my job,” she said. “(It) is only a piece of who I am.”

Coggen and her partner of just over a year are not ready to make a permanent commitment, but the passage of Ref-74 has them thinking.

“I’m happy to see this day,” Coggon said. “Having that opportunity is just amazing. I’m now told I’m equal … mostly …. ’til the federal government gets it figured out.”

A number of the same-sex couples I interviewed said they are carefully watching Supreme Court challenges to the federal Defense of Marriage Act, that defines marriage as the union between a man and a woman.

Coggon and others took heart from the fact that statewide, voters in November upheld legislation allowing gay marriage by 53.7 percent; in Kitsap County, 53.99 percent approved.

“I don’t publicize my personal life, because I’m afraid of how people might view me,” Coggon said, getting choked up. “To have the community I serve in validate who I am is amazing, absolutely amazing.”

Coggon, 34, said she wants to be “very thoughtful” about making a lifetime commitment to her partner. Despite the lack of federal approval, the fact that they can even have that conversation blows Coggon away.

“I think it’s a big step. It’s a huge step, and it’s great,” she said.

Forget Las Vegas. There’s Heronswood.

The Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe will recognize the passage of Referendum-74, which allows same sex marriage in Washington State, with a same-sex marriage event Sunday. The new law goes into effect at midnight Thursday.

The tribe, which supported Ref-74 and owns the world-renowned Heronswood botanical gardens near Kingston, on Sunday will offer same sex couples the chance for a “private, intimate ceremony” on the grounds.

The offer is being extended to up to 20 couples, according to Heronswood spokeswoman Ginger Vaughan. Each ceremony can include up to 12 guests, and a wedding officiant will be on site. Weddings on Dec. 9 will be limited to 30 minutes, but the grounds will be open to wedding parties for pictures and self-guided tours.

The gardens will open noon to 5 p.m. Sunday for the event. Heronswood is providing the rental free of charge, but donations will be accepted. Pre-registration is required.

The tribe is renovating the gardens with plans to re-open them to the public through special events — including weddings — and open houses several times a year.

“While Heronswood won’t officially begin scheduling weddings until early next year, the opportunity to host same-sex couples as they celebrate their special day was too important to pass up,” Vaughan said.

“Heronswood is a magical place that has touched the hearts and lives of many people,” said Noel Higa, Economic Development Director for the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe. “We can think of no better way to show our support and express our congratulations to the gay community than to welcome same-sex couples as among the first to get married there.”

While Sunday’s event at Heronswood is free, publicity from the event could position the economic development arm of the tribe to benefit from passage of R-74.

The Williams Institute, a UCLA-affliated think tank, used U.S. Census data to estimate that, within the first three years of same-sex marriage becoming legal, Washington will see 9,501 gay marriages. That’s about half of eligible couples.

The institute estimates that Maine, Maryland and Washington, which all legalized gay marriage in November, will see a total of $166.6 million over the next three years in wedding-related spending, with Washington’s portion being $88.5 million.

Space for the Heronswood event is limited to the first 20 same-sex couples who register. For reservations, contact JoAnn at 360-297-6305 or send an email to

On Thursday, the Kitsap Sun will be covering the first day of legal same-sex marriage in Washington as it unfolds in Kitsap County. Any couple planning to marry as a result of Ref-74 and willing to be interviewed for the article should email or call (360) 792-9219.