Well, now! Looks like Washington State may actually join the civilized world and legalize same-sex marriage. Currently your only option is to register as domestic partners, which offers many of the same benefits but also lacks certain crucial ones.
This story is somewhat timely for me personally. My partner and I have been registered domestic partners for several years now, so we had no worries about it when it came time to refinance our mortgage. Imagine our shock when we filled out all the paperwork and had a nice new rate locked in, only to find out that we weren’t registered with the state as domestic partners, only the city of Seattle. What the what?? Well, chalk that up to ignorance on our part — I think we mostly did it for insurance purposes and then quickly forgot about it. So we had to register with the state within a few days in order to keep our locked-in rate and avoid a bunch of hassle, so we used the state’s “expedited” registration service: pay an extra $50 and they’ll do it quick. So within two days were officially registered with the state, only a few days before the deadline. Nice! It’s as close to married as we’ll get for a while, maybe ever.
Washington’s domestic-partnership law provides same-sex couples legal benefits similar to those of marriage. Pedersen has played a leading role in expanding the law over the past several years, but gay-marriage advocates say that law does not go far enough.
“We’ve always said that domestic partnership was not an end to itself but a path toward marriage,” Murray said.
The prospect of pushing gay-marriage legislation to a floor vote next year is getting more serious consideration than it has in the past, he said.
The New York Legislature’s vote in June to legalize gay marriage does not factor much into the decision, other than “every time a state passes marriage and the world doesn’t fall apart … it helps,” Murray said.
In addition to New York, the states of Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont and New Hampshire and the District of Columbia issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
It took the Washington Legislature nearly 30 years to pass its gay-rights law in 2006, House Bill 2661. The measure, which was controversial at the time, added sexual orientation to an existing state law that banned discrimination by race, sex, religion, national origin, marital status and other categories.
Now Murray says the state is ready for gay marriage.