Get ready to be married. That's the message from the state of Washington to same-sex couples who are in domestic partnerships and don't either dissolve those partnerships or get married by the end of June.
The plan to convert domestic partnerships to marriages was a part of the state's same-sex marriage law, which was passed by voters in 2012. It will not affect domestic partnerships in which at least one partner is 62 or older. Starting July 1, domestic partnerships will be an option only for senior couples, gay or straight. According to the Secretary of State's office, 9,786 domestic partnerships are currently registered with the state.
As the Seattle Times reported, many of the benefits given to domestic partners in Washington are similar to those given to married couples and this piece of the law was well-publicized during the debate over Referendum 74, which legalized same-sex marriage. Still, the switch could come as a surprise to couples who've separated without formally dissolving their domestic partnership or to people who simply aren't aware the change is coming.
Of those situations, Pam Floyd, corporations director in the Secretary of State’s Office, told the Seattle Times, “We know there are scenarios we’ve not thought of. I’m sure we’ll come up against those and will handle them on a case-by-case basis. This is the first time we’ve had to confront something like this ...”
Find more about the ins and outs of domestic partnerships and same-sex marriage in Washington here.