Washington's New Same-Sex Marriage Law: What's Next for LGBT Couples?
When Washington's marriage equality goes into effect on June 7, 2012, the state becomes the seventh to legalize gay marriage.
June 02, 2012 /24-7PressRelease/ -- Washington state continues to build on its reputation as a civil rights pioneer first established with its recognition of same-sex partnership rights. While gay and lesbian couples in Washington already benefit from official recognition of registered domestic partnerships and related same-sex family law provisions, Gov. Christine Gregoire's recent signature of the marriage equality law ushers in a new era of equal rights for all. When the law goes into effect on June 7, 2012, Washington becomes the seventh state to legalize gay marriage.
Senate Bill 6239 is a game changer that adds important language to the state's civil code that legalizes gay marriage by removing the following offending language: "The legislature finds that same-sex couples, because they cannot marry in this state, do not automatically have the same access that married couples have to certain rights and benefits."
So, practically speaking, what does this mean? Simply put, it means equality. Committed same-sex couples are no longer singled out with respect to issues such as hospital visitation rights, health care decisions, organ donation and other matters involving disability, illness and a partner, husband or wife's death. The other crucial change in the new law is a mandate that gender specific terms such as husband and wife must be considered gender neutral where they appear in any Washington statute, rule or other legal provision.
What does this mean in the big picture? It means that in Washington, people believe that it's important to recognize committed relationships. Committed relationships benefit the public by providing mutual support for the financial, physical and emotional health of Washingtonians and their families.
These rights are a great stride toward equality under the law. But with these rights come unexpected obligations.
All couples considering marriage should understand the legal basics regarding community and separate property, as well as the effect of a new marriage on existing child custody agreements between LGBT parents. A Washington family law attorney who has experience with cases involving domestic partnership dissolution, prenuptial agreements and parenting plan modifications can advise clients about the full implications of the new marriage equality law.
Article provided by DuBois Cary Law Group, PLLC
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