April 11, 2007

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OLYMPIA, WA -- The Washington Legislature has approved a domestic partnership bill that extends property and family rights to couples of the same sex. The 63-35 House vote sends the measure to Governor Gregoire for signing and will make Washington the eighth state in the nation to recognize domestic partnerships.
"This measure will provide many vital protections to same-sex couples in committed relationships. Its passage is an exciting first step toward the ultimate goal of marriage for all couples," said ACLU Legislative Director Jennifer Shaw.
The bill approved by the Legislature creates a state registry of domestic partners. This registration extends to domestic partners some of the rights enjoyed by married couples, such as the ability to make medical care decisions for a sick partner, to visit a partner in the hospital, and to inherit property without a will.
The state will also recognize domestic partnerships for heterosexual couples where at least one person is 62 or older. They were included in the bill because many older couples can lose pensions and other benefits when they marry.
The other states that provide legal recognition and protections for same-sex couples and their families are Vermont, Connecticut, New Jersey, California, Maine and Hawaii.  Massachusetts allows same-sex couples to marry.

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