Notice regarding same sex marriage and domestic partnerships
On December 6, 2012, a new state law went into effect that makes changes to the domestic partner registry and allows same-sex couples to marry. These changes to the law may affect you. This notice is a summary of those changes.
Under the new law, domestic partnerships of same-sex couples will be automatically converted to marriages on June 30, 2014, UNLESS:
- the couple has already legally married;
- at least one partner is 62 years of age or older as of June 30, 2014; OR
- the couple has legally dissolved their domestic partnership or has started a legal proceeding to dissolve their domestic partnership by June 30, 2014.
Here is a brief summary of some key points in the new law:
- The law allows same-sex couples to marry. References to spouses in the law are applicable to spouses of the same sex.
- No religious official is required to perform, recognize, or provide a place for any marriage. They, and their religious organizations, are also immune from civil action if they refuse to conduct a marriage.
- No state agency or local government may penalize a religious organization that opposes any marriage.
- Marriage is not allowed if one person has another spouse or a different partner in a state registered domestic partnership.
- A domestic partnership between a couple does not prohibit that couple from obtaining a marriage license in Washington. Couples in domestic partnerships in Washington may marry each other.
- Until June 30, 2014, Washington will continue to recognize all existing state registered domestic partnerships.
- If a couple registered as domestic partners chooses to marry before June 30, 2014, their state registered domestic partnership will be dissolved as of the date of marriage.
- As of June 30, 2014, state registered domestic partnerships, where neither party is 62 years old, will be converted to marriage without any action by the couple.
- As of June 30, 2014, state registered domestic partnerships, where at least one party is 62 years old, will not be converted to marriage, but remain as domestic partnerships. If, as of June 30, 2014, a state registered domestic partnership is in the process of dissolution, annulment, or legal separation, it will not be converted into marriage.
- If a couple in a state registered domestic partnership marries or if their domestic partnership is converted into a marriage, the legal date of their marriage for purposes of determining their legal rights and responsibilities will be the date they registered their domestic partnership in Washington. However, the date of the marriage ceremony may still be listed on the couple's marriage certificate.
- If a couple from another state or country is in a valid legal union other than marriage, they will have the same rights and responsibilities as married spouses, while in Washington.
- If a couple from another state or country is in a valid legal union other than marriage, and become permanent residents of Washington, they will have one year to enter into marriage to retain those rights and responsibilities.
- If a same-sex couple legally married in another state or country, their marriage will now be recognized in Washington.
- If a couple registered as domestic partners in Washington and also legally married in another state or country, the couple may inform the Secretary of State’s office that their status should be changed from “domestic partners” to “married.” Couples may do so by sending a copy of their out-of-state marriage certificate to the Secretary of State’s office. The couple should include a cover letter that provides their domestic partnership registration number.
We recognize that couples may have questions about how the new law applies to their specific circumstances. If you have any questions or concerns about these changes, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 360-725-0377.