Washington State Goes For
"Everything But Marriage"
Lawmakers in Washington state are submitting a bill that will offer same-sex couples all the rights and responsibilities of marriage - but not the name.
Sen. Ed Murray, D-Seattle, who sponsored the state's domestic partnership law in 2007, is sponsoring the expansion bill in the Senate this year; Rep. Jamie Pedersen, D-Seattle, is sponsoring the measure in the House. A news conference to announce the bill was planned Wednesday on the Capitol campus. "This is everything but marriage," Pedersen said Tuesday night.Because of budget difficulties, if approved the bill will not offer any financial benefits until 2012. To be eligible, a couple must share a home, be over 18, and cannot be in a married or domestic relationship with anybody else. Straight senior couples with at least one party over the age of 62 will also be eligible.
The 110-page bill makes changes to all remaining areas of state law where currently only married couples are addressed. The bill would add same-sex domestic partners to state statutes ranging from labor and employment to pensions and other public employee benefits. "Although we view this as an improvement that provides real and concrete protections to same-sex partners, it's an inadequate substitute for marriage," Pedersen said. "Our hope is that the continuing success of this legislation helps people understand what marriage is, and that it gets them more comfortable with treating all families with equality dignity and respect." Pedersen and Murray said that a same-sex marriage measure, also introduced Tuesday, is unlikely to go anywhere this year, but is meant to spark further discussion. "It's entirely possible that next year, enough things might have changed that we feel like it's time to make a run at the marriage bill," Pedersen said. "We're not there now. But it's not out of the question."