Washington Gov signs domestic partnership law
Anthony Cuesta | April 23, 2007
SEATTLE — Gay and lesbian couples in Washington celebrated Saturday after Gov. Chris Gregoire signed into law a measure to create domestic partnerships, effectively granting them the same rights that come with marriage.
The law creates a domestic partnership registry and provides enhanced rights for same-sex couples, including hospital visitation rights, the ability to authorize autopsies and organ donations and inheritance rights when there is no will.
"It offers the hope that one day, all lesbian and gay families will be treated truly equal under the law," said state Sen. Ed Murray, who is one of five openly gay lawmakers in the Legislature, reports the Associated Press.
To be registered, couples have to share a home, not be married or in a domestic relationship with someone else and be at least 18.
Unmarried, heterosexual senior couples will also be eligible to register if one partner is at least 62. Lawmakers said that provision, similar to one in California law, was included to help seniors who are at risk of losing pension rights and Social Security benefits if they remarry.
"This is a very proud moment for me as governor, to make sure the rights of all of our citizens are equal," Gregoire said, reports the AP.
�Love manifests itself not in some cookie-cutter way,� the governor said, reports the Columbian. �Love comes in many forms. Our families are different, but every one of our families deserves our undivided support.�
The Columbian reports that Sen. Murray, who led the campaign for last year�s gay rights bill, called the domestic partnership bill �a significant step in undoing the hurt this Legislature inflicted� on gay and lesbian couples in 1998 when it passed the Defense of Marriage Act, defining marriage as between one man and one woman.
Couples can register in person with the secretary of state's office in Olympia, or by mail. – Issued by Gay Link Content
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