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Washington State Gays Get ‘Everything But Marriage’

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Moving beyond a 2006 Washington State Supreme Court ruling that insisted denying same-sex unions did not infringe on anybody’s rights, the state’s legislature insisted it does. First the Senate, and now the House have passed SB 5688, which expands existing domestic partnership laws to include what appears to be all remaining areas, granting same-sex partners the same rights as married folks — just without the word “marriage.” Next stop: Gov. Chris Gregoire’s desk, where she’s expected to sign it into law.

Ushered in by Democrats, the bill naturally met resistance by Republicans, who wanted to amend the language to further separate “marriage” from the rights the legislation granted. They also tried putting the measure to a vote by citizens. Neither effort worked out for them. Which means the 5,000 domestic partners who’ve registered since 2007 will ultimately enjoy all the rights and privileges of straight married types, but don’t get to use The M Word.

So what does the new bill provide? Where the old law, passed two years ago and backed by Sen. Ed Murray, provided “inheritance rights in cases where there was no will, hospital visitation rights, the ability to authorize autopsies and organ donations,” the new measure fills in these gaps, reports the Seattle Post-Intelligencer:

* Victims’ rights, including the right to receive notifications and benefits allowances.
* Business succession rights.
* Legal process rights, such as the ability to sign certain documents, the requirement to join in certain petitions, rights to cause of action, and ability to transfer licenses without charge.
* The right to use sick leave to care for a spouse.
* The right to wages and benefits when a spouse is injured, and to unpaid wages upon death of spouse.
* The right to unemployment and disability insurance benefits disability insurance issues
* Workers’ compensation coverage.
* Insurance rights, including rights under group policies, policy rights after death of spouse, conversion rights, and continuing coverage rights.

Next stop for marriage equality? New Hampshire, Maine, New York and New Jersey, where legislators will move on same-sex marriage bills.

As for Washington State, we’ll check back in a year or two, and see if we can upgrade that “domestic partnership” definition to a word that begins with “M.”

By:           editor editor
On:           Apr 16, 2009
Tagged: , , ,
  • 14 Comments
    • Danny the Tranny
      Danny the Tranny

      Hi Joey T. Greetings from the Corner of 4th and Stark.

      Apr 16, 2009 at 10:32 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • John Santos
      John Santos

      I’ve seen paper work that asks, “Single, Married, Widowed, Widower”. I’ve never seen paper work that says, “Cicil Unioned, Domestic Partnered”. Don’t these dolts realize that unless we get to use the word married, or every state changes it’s paper work, our legal relationships will not be truly recognized?

      Apr 16, 2009 at 10:41 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Alec
      Alec

      This is troubling:

      Which means the 5,000 domestic partners who’ve registered since 2007 will ultimately enjoy all the rights and privileges of straight married types, but don’t get to use The M Word.

      When they registered, they weren’t registering for “all the rights and privileges” (you left out the corollary, “obligations and responsibilities and liabilities”), just for those that were offered. This retroactive application is irresponsible of the Washington legislature (CA had a similar problem with its incremental approach to domestic partnerships). The couples should have an opportunity to “opt-in,” but if this bill actually forces them into new arrangements that they didn’t originally sign up for it will create a host of problems.

      Apr 16, 2009 at 10:52 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • emb
      emb

      I think we should celebrate this just as enthusiastically as African-Americans would have celebrated getting “everything except the drinking fountains, schools, bus seats, and the vote.”

      Yay.

      Apr 16, 2009 at 11:29 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Sam
      Sam

      @emb: Hey, I think same-sex couples in Washington would rather have the rights than not. Since the WA Supreme Court already refused to give marriage, the legislature is following the same path that led to marriage in Vermont. They’ll get there.

      In the meantime, the whole West Coast has “everything-but-name” rights for same-sex couples. It’s not the end of the fight, but it’s a great start.

      Apr 16, 2009 at 12:40 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Chaz
      Chaz

      EMB,

      Your snark misses the historical reality that the black civil right’s movement was a long battle with many victories and setbacks along the way. Blacks did celebrate when we got the vote even though states tossed up more barriers to continue our disfranchisement (poll tax, grandfather clause, “literacy” test). The fantasy that the black struggle began and ended in a tiny period of time is shallow and misses the lessons of that civil rights struggle. Lessons we should apply to our current struggle for full LGBT rights.

      Apr 16, 2009 at 12:42 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • The Gay Numbers
      The Gay Numbers

      @Chaz: Equally shallow is where we somehow did not realize as African-Americans that we were still being denied our rights. It was actually both things at the same time. I would prefer EMB’s hard push to your “let’s jut be happy because it’s a long struggle.” Going into it AAs did not know how long it would take (how could they?), but they also kept saying we have waited long enough. Are you seriously advocating waiting the 50 years it took for the NAACP Legal Defense strategy took to work? EMB’s approach is the right one according to the measure of what should be our attitude. The lesson from history is to always fight for equalit because while long that history does arc toward justice. Not to use that history to say that we should ever be happy with less.

      Apr 16, 2009 at 1:29 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Alec
      Alec

      @The Gay Numbers: Marriage where possible, alternative arrangements where not. Civil unions obviously doesn’t stop us from fighting for marriage equality (CT, CA, VT and NH, to provide some examples). But the “marriage or nothing” approach doesn’t work, and in fact can be disastrous (just look at the result of funding the challenge to OR’s marriage amendment in 2004 versus Michigan’s marriage/civil unions/domestic partnership amendment, or the result of the fight over Proposition 8 and FL’s constitutional amendment). Remember, we’re also dealing with real couples who have real needs, and not all of them live on the coasts (or IA).

      Apr 16, 2009 at 1:42 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • The Gay Numbers
      The Gay Numbers

      @Alec: Your response is misguided. Re-read my comment. Does it say we need to attempt to get what we can while also pushing for more or does it say marriage or nothing?

      I am certain it says the former (push for what we can get but also don’t settle), but adds let’s not scold those pushing for more than whatever is the latest new baseline. These people pushing for full equality are part of the processes that moves us forward.

      Hence, my defense of them from the commentor who choose to use the black civil rights struggle under a misguided belief that blacks were willing to just settle simply because the battle proved long. No one should wait to push. They should push for more even as they have to make compromises along the way. It’s a third way of look ing at things that’s not the extreme of either positions often advocated. Call it the by whatever means necessary strategy.

      Those states where marriage has converted from civil unions happened because of people saying civil unions are not good enough. They did not happen from people saying civil uinons are good enough.

      You also incorrectly apply prior historical examples in your arguments. For instance, you bring up right wing attacks in 2004 as a basis for claiming that marriage or nothing advocates are the problem when in fact those acts were a coordinated effort by the national GOP to get out the fundie vote.

      In other words, they had little to nothing to do with marriage equality people, and in fact, in states like Virginia they blocked all rights including contracts between gays regardless of laws already on the book and amendments. Indeed, much of that history is a result of right wing attacks on any effort to obtain legal legitimacy. There is no magic solution (as you seem to think) to this issue other than continuing to fight for what you can get but not accepting the baseline that conservatives retreat to once they lose. And, yes, histotrically, they do lose, but you have to undestand how it is that this is occurs. It occurs through a series of battles that does not accept the status quo as the final result.

      Apr 16, 2009 at 3:04 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Alec
      Alec

      @The Gay Numbers:

      They should push for more even as they have to make compromises along the way. It’s a third way of look ing at things that’s not the extreme of either positions often advocated. Call it the by whatever means necessary strategy. Those states where marriage has converted from civil unions happened because of people saying civil unions are not good enough. They did not happen from people saying civil uinons are good enough.

      That I gree with. This, however:

      For instance, you bring up right wing attacks in 2004 as a basis for claiming that marriage or nothing advocates are the problem when in fact those acts were a coordinated effort by the national GOP to get out the fundie vote.

      My point was that there’s every indication that amendments that attempt to go beyond marriage and prohibit civil unions and domestic partnership benefits are more likely to fail, and that when fighting those initiatives funding should have been prioritized accordingly, taking into account demographics, of course, as well as other factors (likelihood of success, current availability of marriage, etc.). There was absolutely no legitimate reason to prioritize Oregon over Michigan in 2004, for example, but that is precisely what HRC and other national groups did, despite early polling indicating that MI’s more draconian amendment would be easier to defeat. As Arizona’s 2006 and 2008 campaigns illustrate, this can make a real difference.

      There is no magic solution (as you seem to think) to this issue other than continuing to fight for what you can get but not accepting the baseline that conservatives retreat to once they lose.

      Where did I say that there was a magical solution? There isn’t; but because of a failure of strategic vision, at least in part, we have marriage amendments that go far beyond marriage, and those constitutional amendments are next to impossible to overturn.

      Apr 16, 2009 at 3:14 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • jtpdx
      jtpdx

      @DTT: Good to see you’re around.
      We’re inching…

      Apr 16, 2009 at 3:17 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • The Gay Numbers
      The Gay Numbers

      @Alec: My point is there is no miracle cure. You at once say that you are not arguing for a perfect strategy, and then turn around to argue for one that you think HRC should have pursued. My point is that the right wing in 2004 had the advantage on these issues, and that this had very little to do with marriage, civil unions or whatever one called it at the time. It had to do with the Overton window. Your point is historically inaccurate- thus why I mentioned Virginia. there are others such as Arizona.

      Apr 16, 2009 at 4:36 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Leah
      Leah

      @The Gay Numbers:
      I will take what I can get as it comes ans here’s why: I think about that moment in the hospital when you have been informed your same-sex partner has been badly injured and may not make it. Do I want to be denied at that moment entry into the room to hold them and kiss them and possibly say my goodbyes for the last time? Of course not, and I certainly won’t be caring about what word the government wants me to use for my relationship at that critical moment. This is why I could never justify saying “I want marriage or nothing” because if I get the ‘nothing’ I will think back and wish I had taken what I could have at that moment in the hospital. I just want equality, screw you if you wanna keep the word. Have it. Even if we’re granted it, will everyone look at my marriage and a straight marriage the same? No way.

      Apr 16, 2009 at 6:20 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • The Gay Numbers
      The Gay Numbers

      @Leah: What do you want me to say to your post when you can’t be bother to respond to what I actually write?

      Apr 16, 2009 at 6:36 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

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