Excellent news from the West Coast. Under a measure passed by the Washington state Senate, same-sex domestic partners would have all of the rights and benefits offered to married couples. The new domestic partnerships will be on par with civil marriage.
SB 5688 passed on a mostly party-line 30 to 18 vote. The legislation expands the state's domestic partnership laws and treats same-sex families the same as married families under Washington law. The lead sponsor is Sen. Ed Murray, D-Seattle, one of six openly gay lawmakers in the Legislature.
"This is the most family-friendly bill this Legislature has considered in years, and the timing couldn’t be better," says Murray. "In this uncertain economy, there is no more urgent time to treat domestic partners and married spouses the same."
"Our state is facing historic jobless numbers," said Sen. Joe McDermott, D-West-Seattle. "This is a very scary time for Washington families, no matter who they are made up of. Now more than ever, every family must have the same protections under the law."
The bill adds domestic partners into all of the remaining areas of law regarding the rights and responsibilities of spouses that have not yet been amended for inclusion under the previous two years’ domestic partnership legislation, Murray said.
The bill adds
reference to partnerships alongside "all remaining areas of state law"
where currently only married couples are mentioned. These are hundreds of statutes ranging
from labor and employment to pensions and other public employee
As of Tuesday, 5,112 domestic partnership registrations had been filed since the law took effect in July 2007. The original partnership law provided hospital visitation rights and inheritance rights.
The house version of the bill has 57 co-sponsors and "appears ready to pass easily," notes Slog. Gov. Christine Gregoire says she will sign the bill. Gregoire signed the last two domestic partnership bills into law and a gay civil rights law in 2006.