Starting Thursday, gay and lesbian couples in Washington State will be able to register for expanded domestic-partnership benefits, since voters approved of the measure last month.

Filings have more than doubled since Referendum 71 was passed in November, from 35-40 couples registering weekly, to 90 per week, the state's Corporations and Charities Division told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

Pamela Floyd, director of the Corporations and Charities Division, said the agency is ready for the uptick in registrants.

"We do expect an increase in domestic partnerships and we have trained staff available to process registrations as received," she said. "We also expect businesses and other state agencies, as well as partners,  to be contacting our office for verification or documentation of registrations. We are updating our Web search to include both registration and termination dates and we have staff available to provide certified copies of documents, if required."

According to the Washington secretary of state, the "everything but marriage" measure passed by 112,000 votes. The state legislature passed the law, signed by Gov. Chris Gregoire, but it was put on hold pending the results of the referendum. This measure expands already-standing domestic partnership rights to include worker's compensation coverage, sick leave, insurance rights, and disability benefits.

As of today, more than 6,000 couples have registered as domestic partners, including heterosexual couples in which one partner is 62 or older.

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