cy requirement requires a party to be 1) a
resident of this state, or 2) a member of the
armed forces and stationed in this state,
or 3) married or in a domestic partnership
to a party who is a resident of this state.
Sometimes couples, in their excitement to
get married or to sign up for whatever version of relationship recognition exists in a
particular jurisdiction at a particular time,
visit a state or country and get married (or
registered, etc.) — but if the relationship
later ends, that couple may be left without
the practical ability to terminate that legal
Determining the Start Date
The marriage law is not retroactive for the
title of “married,” meaning that same-sex
couples in registered domestic partnerships in Washington state do not become
automatically or retroactively “married.”
Rather, the marriage date for same-sex
couples will be the date of a couple’s actual marriage after Dec. 6, 2012, or, if
they choose not to affirmatively apply
for a marriage license and have not yet
dissolved their state-registered domestic
partnership, their marriage date will be
June 30, 2014 (the date when all state-registered domestic partnerships where the
parties are under 62 years of age will be
automatically converted to marriages). If
registered domestic partners prefer their
relationship not be converted to a marriage as of June 30, 2014, then the parties
must file for dissolution of their registered
domestic partnership by that date.
Nevertheless, for the purposes of determining the legal rights and responsibilities under community property principles for couples who previously had a
state-registered domestic partnership but
who have been issued a marriage license
or who are deemed married, the date of
the original legal union is the date the
court will look to as the effective date for
all the rights and responsibilities associated with marriage.
12 For couples whose
relationships predate the availability of
registering as domestic partners, or who
never registered as domestic partners,
the law regarding committed intimate
relationships should apply to their prelegally recognized relationship according
to the facts asserted and proven about
their relationship. Property acquired during a committed intimate relationship
(formerly known in case law as a “
meretricious relationship”) may be subject to equitable division and community property
laws by analogy in the same manner as for
Same-Sex Marriage FAQs
By David Ward
Do same-sex couples need to marry again
in Washington if they legally married in
another state or country before Referendum 74 passed?
No. Washington will recognize marriages of
same-sex couples who were legally married in
another state or country.
How does Referendum 74 change the
state’s domestic partnership law?
Previously, couples could register domestic
partners with the state if both partners were of
the same sex, or if one partner was 62 years old
or older. However, starting on June 30, 2014,
state-registered domestic partnerships will only
be available for couples in which at least one
partner is 62 or older.
What happens to same-sex couples who registered as domestic partners
In most cases, these couples must now decide whether they want to become married.
That’s because Referendum 74 phases out domestic partnerships on June 30, 2014,
except for senior couples. If a couple in a registered domestic partnership wants to
get married now, they can do so. But if they do nothing, their domestic partnership
will be automatically converted to a marriage by the state on June 30, 2014, unless
1) at least one partner is 62 or older on June 30, 2014; or 2) the couple has started
proceedings to dissolve their domestic partnership by June 30, 2014.
Will the federal government recognize marriages of same-sex couples?
Not yet. The federal Defense of Marriage Act prohibits the federal government from
recognizing marriages of same-sex couples. That means married same-sex couples
in Washington do not have over 1,000 federal rights and benefits provided to other
married couples — ranging from the ability to file joint federal tax returns to the right
to receive Social Security survivor benefits if their spouse dies. But the U.S. Supreme
Court will hear a challenge to DOMA later this year, so this policy could change soon.
What’s happening in the U.S. Supreme Court?
In December, the Supreme Court announced it would hear two cases concerning
marriage for same-sex couples. Decisions are expected in late June.
The first case, United States v. Windsor, challenges the DOMA provision that
prohibits the federal government from recognizing marriages of same-sex couples
who are legally married under the laws of their home states. The Second Circuit
struck down this provision of DOMA as unconstitutional in October 2012; the
First Circuit issued a similar ruling earlier in the year.
The second case, Hollingsworth v. Perry, challenges California’s ban on marriage
for same-sex couples, which voters approved in 2008 as Proposition 8. The Ninth
Circuit struck down the ban in 2012, affirming an earlier ruling by the U.S. District
Court that the law was unconstitutional.
David Ward is legal and legislative counsel at Legal Voice, an organization that
works to advance the legal rights of women in the Northwest. He may be reached at