US: Washington state to convert most domestic partnerships to marriages on Monday

PinkNews logo with white background and rainbow corners

Washington state will convert thousands of existing same-sex domestic partnerships into marriages on Monday.

The state – which introduced domestic partnerships in 2007, and same-sex marriage in 2012 – has decided to discontinue domestic partnerships entirely, following a substantial drop in use.

On Monday, all existing partnerships in which at least one partner is currently under the age of 62 will be converted to marriages, and new partnerships will also be closed to those under the age of 62. Domestic partnerships will remain available to seniors.

There are currently more than 6,500 domestic partnerships, most of which will be converted.

Monisha Harrell, the chair of Equal Rights Washington whose own partnership is due to be converted, told the Seattle Times: “We’ve been building our lives together and the law has finally caught on.”

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray said the partnerships were only ever intended as a half-measure, adding: “There will be no second-class recognition of gay and lesbian relationships. There will be marriage.”

Of the bureaucratic challenge of the en masse change in status, Pam Floyd, corporations director in the Secretary of State’s Office said: “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.”

The move marks the final part of the state’s equal marriage legislation, passed in 2012 with 52% of the vote.

In the UK, it was announced this week that civil partnerships will remain as an option for same-sex couples despite the introduction of same-sex marriage, but that they would not be opened up to opposite-sex couples.

The move followed a consultation into the future of civil partnerships, but no clear consensus could be reached.