The Washington House of Representatives passed the Domestic Partnership bill yesterday, 63-35. Governor Chris Gregoire, a longtime supporter of equality for gay and lesbian Washingtonians, has said she will sign the bill, which provides gay and lesbian couples some very basic protections--one of which is the right of automatic hospital visitation.
According to Equal Rights Washington, "This law will provide same-sex couples limited, though important, protections during their most vulnerable times--during illness, incapacity and death. 'We view this bill as an emergency protection act. We will continue to talk about the lives of LGBT families and the importance of marriage equality,' said Barbara Green, ERW's Interim Executive Director. 'The Domestic Partnership bill offers only a fraction of full marriage protections....[civil marriage] provides a legal and social safety net that is unparalleled in protecting families during times of crisis. Same-sex couples need the 400 plus statewide protections, and the 1,000 plus federal protections that come with civil marriage. Nothing short of marriage will provide LGBT families with the protections and dignity we deserve.'
The Domestic Partnership bill will also protect senior couples, who may choose not to marry due to harsh economic penalties. 'This law is sound public policy; it protects families in Washington State currently without a safety net,' said Green."
This is particularly meaningful news to me as my partner and I were legally joined in a civil union in the state of Vermont a year ago tomorrow. We also have legal protection through a living trust and wills; medical and financial powers of attorney; and other legal documents. We are blessed by the open-mindedness of our families, who would never challenge our choices in a court of law and who honor our commitment to each other. Nevertheless, we will register as domestic partners in this state.