Gov. Gregoire signs domestic partnership bill

By | May 18, 2009 | Comments

Gov. Chris Gregoire signed a bill to extend all the rights and responsibilities of married couples to same-sex domestic partners in Washington today. She said at the signing that the bill is “strengthening Washington by strengthening families.”

Rep. Jamie Pedersen, who sponsored the bill in the House, echoed Gregoire’s remarks, saying his family and 5,300 others in Washington would be helped by the bill.

And the bill’s sponsor in the Senate, Sen. Ed Murray, said in a statement that the bill was another step toward gay marriage in Washington. “Of course, marriage equality is the final goal for gay and lesbian families here in Washington too. We will pursue full equality, but with our full but cautious commitment.”

The bill requires all state agencies to give gay and lesbian registered domestic partners the same treatment as married couples currently receive. It will do nothing to federal laws — including the rights and responsibilities controlled by the federal government.

There has already been an initiative filed in opposition of the bill.

The battle over domestic partnerships in this state began in 2007, when the Legislature passed a bill that created the domestic partnership registry. The Governor signed it into law. The following year, the Legislature added to the registry rights and responsibilities “relating to issues such as “dissolutions, community property, estate planning, taxes, court process, conflicts of interest for public officials and guardianships,” according to the release.

In addition to the main domestic partnership bill, Gregoire also signed a bill to allow domestic partners to receive survivor benefits if their spouse was a member of the Washington State Patrol, and another to give domestic partners the same pension benefits as married couples who are state employees or members of law enforcement or fire fighter pension plans.

The full press conference, which was held in Seattle this morning, will air at 7 p.m. on TVW. I’ll post online as soon as it’s available.