Washington to Convert Domestic Partnerships to Marriage

The final leg of the new marriage equality laws in Washington state means that any same-sex couple who hasn't dissolved their domestic partnership will soon find themselves married (unless they're seniors).

BY Diane Anderson-Minshall

February 17 2014 1:22 PM ET

A happy lesbian couple get hitched. You too may soon be married, if you live in Washington. Photo by Creatista/Photos.com.

Washington state has a surprise for thousands of same-sex domestic partners who have not married or legally dissolved their domestic partnership by the end of June; according to the Seattle Times, each couple will have their relationships automatically converted to marriage this summer. 

Lornet Turnbull reports that the move is "the final piece of the state’s same-sex marriage law — a provision about which many couples are apparently unaware and one sure to trigger some uncomfortable conversations. Those being plunged into matrimony will no doubt include couples who simply hadn’t given it much thought."

She reports that some couples on the domestic partnership registry may have already broken up and married other people (illegally). 

Most however are expected to be couples who are eager to see their romantic partnerships recognized as they marriages they are.

The Secretary of State’s Office will alert the approximately 6,500 same-sex couples on the domestic-partnership registry of the pending change in March.  

“We know there are scenarios we’ve not thought of,” said Pam Floyd, corporations director in the Secretary of State’s Office, which oversees domestic-partnership registrations, told Turnbull. “I’m sure we’ll come up against those and will handle them on a case-by-case basis. This is the first time we’ve had to confront something like this ...”

It's not a new precendent however. Both New Hampshire and Connecticut automatically converted civil unions in marriage after same-sex marriage was legalized in those states.

Officials say that the conversion won’t affect domestic partners who are seniors, same-sex or opposite-sex, as domestic partnerships will remain an option only for them.

According to Turnbull, another state rule, set to take effect next month, "will allow marriage certificates to reflect two dates: the date of the marriage, as well as the legal date of the union, which is the date the couple registered their domestic partnership."

 

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