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Notes

*DC (subject to Congressional review) and Mexico City same-sex marriage laws are effective from 1 March and 4 March 2010, respectively.

See also

Same-sex marriage
Same-sex marriage legislation
Timeline of same-sex marriage
Civil union
Domestic partnership
Registered partnership
Civil partnership
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LGBT portal

State Registered Domestic Partnerships (SRDP) in Washington were created in 2007 in response to the State Supreme Court's decision in Andersen v. King County. Domestic partnership legislation was expanded further in 2008 and on May 18, 2009 Governor Chris Gregoire signed the "everything-but-marriage" bill into law[2][3]. The legislation was meant to come into force on July 26, 2009, but opponents filed Referendum 71, seeking to overturn the expansion, possibly delaying the law from taking effect in addition.[1] On September 1, the Secretary of State's office certified 121,617 valid signatures[2], more than the 120,577 required to qualify the issue for the November 3 ballot.[3]

Washington's voters approved the Senate Bill 5688 (the Everything but Marriage bill) in the 2009 General Election, which gave all domestic partners the same rights as marriage, except the title of marriage. The law went into effect on December 3, 2009.[4] Domestic partners in Washington have all the same rights, benefits, and protections given to married couples on the state level due to this legislation.[5] Gay marriage is still not recognized or valid in Washington, and state statute forbids marriage except between one man and one woman.[6]

Contents

History

In 1998, the Legislature passed a "Defense of Marriage Act"[7] that Governor Gary Locke vetoed. The Legislature overrode his veto. Between 2004 and 2005, several suits were filed that challenged the constitutionality of the law, and the combined cases—Andersen v. King County—were argued before the Washington Supreme Court. On July 26, 2006, the Supreme Court declared in a 5–4 decision[8] that it was within the power of the Legislature to determine who is eligible to enter into marriage in the state and therefore the law did not violate the Washington State Constitution. The court noted, though, that the Legislature was certainly free to revisit any law it had previously enacted.

Legislators backing the domestic partnership legislation have been open in stating that their ultimate intent is to expand marriage laws to include same-sex couples and that they see the creation and expansion of domestic partnerships as steps toward that goal.[9] For the last few sessions, legislators have introduced civil marriage equality bills to encourage discussion.[10][11]

Domestic partnership

Lacking sufficient votes to change the marriage laws, the Legislature worked to pass the original SRDP law. The law conferred eleven of the rights of marriage to same-sex couples, as well as heterosexual couples when at least one of the individuals is over the age of 62. The bill[12] passed April 10, 2007, was signed by Governor Christine Gregoire on April 21, 2007, and took effect on July 22, 2007.

In 2008, the Legislature greatly expanded the scope of the law, adding over 160 of the state rights and responsibilities of marriage to domestic partnerships. The bill was passed on March 4, 2008, signed by Governor Gregoire on March 12, 2008, and took effect on June 12, 2008.[13]

Similar to California’s incremental approach with its domestic partnership laws, the Washington Legislature has added more benefits to the original SRDP law. Again like California, Washington domestic partners do not need to re–register to take advantage of the new benefits. Because of the significant changes in 2008, the Secretary of State’s office was required to mail a letter to the last known address of each SRDP informing them of the changes.

Domestic partnership legislation was expanded further to "all areas, except marriage" on Monday 18th, May 2009 when Governor Christine Gregoire signed the bill into law[4][5].

Rights and responsibilities

Originally, the SRDP only conferred about 170 of the benefits and responsibilities of marriage. Highlights[14] include:

  • Hospital visitation, jail and prison visitations, health care decision-making, and information-access rights
  • Inheritance rights and administration of the estate when the domestic partner dies without a will. A surviving partner would be considered the next of kin unless the deceased partner had a child or a will that had other stipulations.
  • Rights regarding cemetery plots, disposition of remains, anatomical donations, and ordering of autopsies
  • A surviving domestic partner may bring a wrongful death action based on the death of the other partner
  • Testimonial privileges
  • Community property rules apply
  • Dissolution laws apply (with only a few exceptions)
  • Domestic partners may sue on behalf of the community
  • Domestic violence statutes apply
  • Certain property transfers between partners are not taxed
  • State veterans benefits apply
  • Appointed and elected officials’ domestic partners are subject to the same laws and regulations that apply to officials’ spouses

Registration

The Secretary of State began issuing registrations July 23, 2007, the first business day after the law took effect.

Couples wishing to enter into a SRDP are required to fill out an application,[15] have it notarized, and pay a filing fee. Although the applications may be available at the county auditor's office, the applications, unlike marriage licenses, are processed in Olympia. The completed application can be mailed or taken in person to the Secretary of State’s Corporations Division,[16] and online registrations are expected soon.

Once the application is received, the Secretary of State's office will issue a certificate and a wallet card for each individual. Additionally, registration information can be verified on the Secretary of State's domestic partnership page.[17] Because registrations are public records, anyone can verify the status of a SRDP.

Because a SRDP is less familiar than marriage, any of these three methods of can be used to prove the partner's rights, especially during an emergency.

Legislation coming into force from December 3, 2009

Legislation introduced on January 28, 2009 and passed by the state Senate on March 10, the state House on April 15, and sent to Gov. Gregoire on April 23[18], aims to extend the laws to encompass all state-level benefits of marriage.[19] The new legislation would amend many of Washington's laws and place domestic partnership on an equal footing with civil marriage.[20] Governor Gregoire indicated that she would sign the bill into law. Domestic partnership legislation was expanded further in 2008 and on Monday 18th, May 2009 Governor Chris Gregoire signed the "everything-but-marriage" bill into law. [6][7] Voters subsequently approved Referendum 71. The expanded domestic partnership law went into effect on December 3, 2009.

"Although we view this as an improvement that provides real and concrete protections to same-sex partners, it's an inadequate substitute for marriage," said Representative Jamie Pedersen, the House sponsor of the bill.[21]

Some of the additions to the 2009 SRDP laws [8] include:

  • The right to use sick leave to care for a domestic partner
  • The right to wages and benefits when a domestic partner is injured, and to unpaid wages upon the death of a domestic partner
  • The right to unemployment and disability insurance benefits
  • The right to workers’ compensation coverage
  • Insurance rights, including rights under group policies, policy rights after the death of a domestic partner, conversion rights and continuing coverage rights
  • Rights related to adoption, child custody and child support
  • Business succession rights.

See also

References

  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ La Corte, Rachel (2009-09-01). "Gay partnership referendum makes ballot". The Seattle Times (Associated Press). http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2009781794_apusdomesticpartnerships4thldwritethru.html. Retrieved 2009-09-01.  
  3. ^ "Verifying Signatures for Referendum 71". Secretary of State's Office (Washington State). 2009-09-02. http://wei.secstate.wa.gov/osos/en/initiativesReferenda/Pages/R-71SignatureStats.aspx. Retrieved 2009-10-02.  
  4. ^ http://blogs.sos.wa.gov/FromOurCorner/index.php/2009/11/r-71-effective-12-3-09/
  5. ^ http://www.komonews.com/news/69333537.html
  6. ^ http://apps.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?cite=26.04.010
  7. ^ http://apps.leg.wa.gov/RCW/default.aspx?cite=26.04.010
  8. ^ http://www.courts.wa.gov/newsinfo/content/pdf/759341opn.pdf
  9. ^ http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2004278712_webdomestic12.html
  10. ^ http://apps.leg.wa.gov/billinfo/summary.aspx?bill=1350&year=2007
  11. ^ http://apps.leg.wa.gov/billinfo/summary.aspx?bill=1745&year=2009
  12. ^ http://apps.leg.wa.gov/billinfo/summary.aspx?bill=5336&year=2007
  13. ^ http://apps.leg.wa.gov/billinfo/summary.aspx?bill=3104&year=2007
  14. ^ http://www.secstate.wa.gov/corps/domesticpartnerships/rights_responsibilites_dp.pdf
  15. ^ http://www.secstate.wa.gov/_assets/corps/domesticpartnerships/DomesticPartnerships.pdf
  16. ^ http://www.secstate.wa.gov/corps
  17. ^ http://www.secstate.wa.gov/corps/domesticpartnerships/
  18. ^ SB 5688
  19. ^ http://www.theolympian.com/northwest/story/740375.html
  20. ^ http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/397891_domestic29.html
  21. ^ http://www.365gay.com/news/wash-mulls-major-expansion-of-gay-partner-law/







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