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Religious Tolerance logo

Same-sex marriage (SSM) & domestic partnerships

Washington Legislature activity - 2007

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State legislature activity:

bullet2007-MAR-01: Domestic partnership bill passes Senate: After a long and emotional debate, a bill to authorized domestic partnerships passed by a vote of 28 to 19. The bill would give a few of the state rights automatically given to married couples to same-sex couples and unmarried heterosexual couples where one spouse is aged 62 or older. Included are the right to:
bulletvisit their spouse in hospital;
bulletgive consent for health care if a partner is ill and not competent;
bulletauthorize autopsies and organ donations;
bulletarrange funerals for their spouse, and
bulletobtain inheritance rights where there is no will.

None of the approximately 1,100 federal benefits given automatically to opposite-sex married couples would be extended to domestic partners.

Reactions were as expected:

bulletSen. Ed Murray, (D-Seattle), the bill's lead sponsor, said he supports extending the right to marry to gay and lesbian couples. But he emphasized that this bill does not do that; it only extends some basic rights to those couples. He said: "Imagine for a moment your spouse was in the hospital and dying and you could not go into the room and hold her hand. This bill will do the work of justice and end that hurt."
bulletSenator Don Benton, (R-Vancouver) said: "Call it what you want, but this bill is absolutely conferring rights that are reserved for married couples" to gays and lesbians and the elderly.
bulletSen. Val Stevens, (R-Arlington), said: "This bill is not about equal rights, it is about changing society in ways that will ultimately harm it." 1
bullet2007-APR-10: House passes bill: The domestic partnership bill passed the state House easily with a vote of 63 to 35.
bulletRep. Lynn Schindler, (R-Spokane) said:

"My vote is to protect the institution of marriage. The next step is to solidify the domestic partner relationship in a marriage contract, and that is why I am voting no on this bill ... because the institution of marriage is how this civilization has been organized for thousands of years."

bulletRep. Jay Rodne, (R-North Bend), said:

"The incentive for this bill is a desire to have a debate about marriage. I think this body ought to have that debate. Let's bring forth a marriage bill, have that debate, make those votes and vote our conscience. What we do today really clouds the issue. It really undermines the incentive for individuals to get married. It further erodes and weakens an already beleaguered institution to our detriment."

bulletSen. Ed Murray, (D-Seattle), the bill's lead sponsor, said:

"In 1998, this Legislature shamefully acted to discriminate against gay and lesbian families when they passed (Defense of Marriage Act). Today, with the passage of the domestic partnership bill, we begin to undo that shameful act by providing some protections. I think we are closer to [same-sex] marriage than people realize, but it's still a multiyear process, it's still going to take a lot of work." 2

bullet2007-APR-21: Domestic partner bill becomes law: Governor Chris Gregoire signed a bill that allows same-sex and elderly opposite-sex couples to register as domestic partners. It gives them some of the state benefits automatically given to married couples. Included will be the right to visit their spouse in hospital, to authorize autopsies and organ donations, and to obtain inheritance rights where there is no will. 3
bullet2007-JUL-22: Registration began: The new domestic partner bill comes into effect today. Couples can either register with the Secretary of State in Olympia, or download the form from the Web site and send it in to register and receive a certificate of the partnership. 3

References used in this essay:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Andrew Garber, "Domestic partnership bill passes state Senate," The Seattle Times, 2007-MAR-01, at: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/
  2. Chris McGann, "Gay rights bill for couples passed. Governor plans to sign domestic partnership law," SeattlePI, 2007-APR-10, at: http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/
  3. "Spotlight," Legal Marriage Alliance of Washington, at: http://www.lmaw.org/

Copyright © 2007 to 2009 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2009-JUL-29
Author: B.A. Robinson

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