Press Room

February 13, 2012

Category: Marriage, State Advocacy, Washington

Washington State Makes History with Marriage Equality Law

Governor’s Signature Puts State on the Road to Fairness for All Families

WASHINGTON – Today the Human Rights Campaign – the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender civil rights organization – praised Washington state Gov. Christine Gregoire for her signature of the historic bill extending marriage to gay and lesbian couples.  HRC is proud to have been a founding member of the campaign to pass the marriage bill and to have worked on the ground with state partners.

“Today’s signature of the marriage equality law puts Washington on the road to fairness for all families,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese.  “While those opposed to marriage for gay and lesbian couples will no doubt try to undo this progress, I am confident that equality will prevail in Washington.”

The Human Rights Campaign made a significant commitment of resources to the successful efforts to achieve marriage equality in Washington in 2012. From the founding of the Washington United for Marriage coalition through the governor’s signing of the marriage bill, HRC provided substantial field expertise. Additionally, HRC helped recruit business support and also released a video with Gov. Chris Gregoire as part of the organization’s Americans for Marriage Equality series.

“This victory was possible thanks to the hard work of so many on the ground in Washington,” said Solmonese. “Our congratulations go to Sen. Ed Murray and Rep. Jamie Pedersen, along with Gov. Gregoire, who were incredible leaders in this effort.”

Pending the referendum process, Washington now joins six other states – Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, and Vermont – plus the District of Columbia in recognizing marriage for gay and lesbian couples under state law.  At this time, 8 states—California, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon and Rhode Island—provide same-sex couples with access to the state level benefits and responsibilities of marriage, through either civil unions or domestic partnerships.

Colorado, Maine, and Wisconsin provide same-sex couples with limited rights and benefits.  Maryland recognizes marriages of same-sex couples validly entered into outside of the jurisdiction.  California recognized marriage by same-sex couples between June and November of 2008, before voters approved Proposition 8, which purports to amend the state constitution to prohibit marriage equality.  Couples married in that window remain married under California law, but all other same-sex couples can only receive a domestic partnership within the state. The state will recognize out of state same-sex marriages that occurred before November 5, 2008 as marriages and those that occurred on or after November 5, 2008 somewhere between domestic partnerships and marriage. The Proposition 8 vote has been struck down in federal court, but the decision has been stayed pending review.

Same-sex couples do not receive federal rights and benefits in any state.  For an electronic map showing where marriage equality stands in the states, please visit: www.HRC.org/State_Laws.

More on HRC in Washington state is available at: http://hrc-assets.s3-website-us-east-1.amazonaws.com//files/assets/resources/Washington_Marriage_OurWork_2012.pdf.

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.

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