Shortly after the clock struck midnight on Thursday, two Seattle women became the first gay couple to receive a marriage licence in America’s west coast state of Washington.

Pete-e Petersen, 85, and Jane Abbott Lighty, 77, have been in a relationship for 35 years.

According to CNN, the pair met on a blind date in 1977 and previously assumed they would die before being legally married in the state.

Washington made history last month as one of three US states where marriage rights were extended to same-sex couples by popular vote, joining Maryland and Maine in passing ballot initiatives.

Under Washington state law, all would-be brides and grooms must submit their marriage certificates at least three days in advance. So the first wave of same-sex Washington weddings – expected to number in the hundreds – is scheduled for Sunday.

In Olympia, the state capital, the Thurston County Auditor’s Office planned to grant marriage licences to the 15 same-sex couples who entered a lottery to be served first at midnight.

Although Washington’s legislature initially legalised the measure in February of this year, opponents succeeded in gathering enough signatures to force a state ballot.