US: Washington marriage certificates to reflect legalisation of same-sex marriage

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Washington State’s Department of Health is currently reviewing the text displayed on marriage certificates, with a view to bring it in line with recently introduced equal marriage law.

On 7 November, the US west coast state of Washington followed Maine and Maryland in passing a referendum in support of marriage rights for gay couples, and Minnesota voted against outlawing equal marriage.

The law takes effect on 6 December, but even before the vote, the state had begun plans to change the legal documents, reports

Tim Church, a spokesman from Washington State’s department of health, talked about the change, saying that the text which used to say “husband” and “wife”, will be replaced by something more gender-neutral. He said:

“We are proposing a change where it will say something like ‘Spouse A’ and ‘Spouse B’.”

In the UK, the government has said similar changes will be made if equal marriage is legalised there. Last week, David Cameron announced that he intends to fast-track legislation to introduce equal marriage within weeks.

In France, where a same-sex adoption bill is to go through parliament, there has been talk of plans to remove the words “mother” and “father” from birth certificates, in order to take into account the potential new laws.

Similar changes had already taken place in Spain.