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Washington Domestic Partnerships - All About Washington's Domestic Partnerships

Rights for Gay and Lesbian Couples

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The Washington State domestic partnership law has gone through a few transformations since it was first signed into law on April 21, 2007. Its first incarnation offered very few rights to gay and lesbian couples. Later in March 2008, the Washington State Legislature passed a measure to expand the law to include more than 170 rights that are granted to heterosexual married couples.

Finally in 2009, the law was expanded again to give registered same-sex couples all the state rights as married heterosexual couples.

What does a Washington Domestic Partnership Do?

  • Registered same sex couples will have the same rights as married couples.
  • Spousal testimony rights -- the right to refuse to testify against your partner in a court of law
  • ability to share a bank account
  • the right to hold common property
  • Divorce rights
  • Child-custody provisions
  • Domestic partners who are residents in long‐term care facilities or nursing home may share the same room
  • Most partnerships will have to be dissolved in Superior Court, like divorce proceedings
  • Domestic partners of public officials must submit financial disclosure forms, just as the spouses of heterosexual officials do Victims' rights, including the right to receive notifications and benefits allowances.
  • The right to use sick leave to care for a spouse.
  • The right to wages and benefits when a spouse is injured, and to unpaid wages upon death of spouse.
  • The right to disability insurance benefits.
  • Workers' compensation coverage.
  • Insurance rights, including rights under group policies, policy rights after death of spouse, conversion rights, and continuing coverage rights.

Who Can Get a Domestic Partnership in Washington?

Partners must:
  • Share a common residence,
  • Be at least 18 years of age,
  • Not be married to another person or in a domestic partnership with anyone else,
  • Be capable of consenting to the relationship,
  • Not be blood relations, and
  • Be either members of the same sex or if, in a heterosexual partnership, have one individual be at least 62 years of age.

What if I have a civil union from another state?

Domestic partnerships, civil unions and reciprocal beneficiary relationships registered in other states are recognized in Washington so long as all the Washington criteria for domestic partnership are met.

When does the law go into effect?

Washington Governor Chris Gregoire still needs to sign the bill for it to go into effect. She is expected to sign it.

Source: Equal Rights Washington, Seattle Times

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