Washington To Convert Domestic Partners To 'Married' In June

Apr 1, 2014

Credit Flickr Photo/John Heil (CC BY-NC-ND)

The wedding day for about 7,000 same-sex couples in Washington is just three months away. It’s not a date they chose, but one set by the state’s same-sex marriage law. Some couples are excited, but others never planned to marry at all.

Washington state is phasing out same-sex domestic partnerships, now that the couples can marry.

“We became domestic partners because I needed insurance, and I worked for a small business in north Idaho that didn’t offer it. Her company offered it only to domestic partners, so we applied.”

That’s Heidi Piccirello, who has been with her partner Kim Tucker for ten years. A clause in the marriage equality law says the couples will all be converted into marriage, on June 30, 2014. Piccirello says they never intended to marry, and she doesn’t believe in what marriage means in our world. But they’ve decided to stick together.

“We’ve been married since six months, the way I look at it, we’ve been pretty committed. So its like … I don’t want a government form letter addressed to Washington state registered domestic partners, to tell me when my date of marriage is, you know,” she said.

At the Washington Secretary of State’s Office, Pam Floyd says her department mailed all people in domestic partnerships to alert them about the marriage conversion. She says the couples still have time to dissolve their partnership if they don’t want marriage, but she doesn’t share much sympathy.

“If they did not want to be married, and they wanted a domestic partnership because it didn’t have the same responsibilities of marriage, they should be aware that between 2007 and 2012 the law changed each year until the rights and responsibilities of a domestic partnership are equal with marriage,” she said.

This is music to the ears of Matt Fleming. He and partner Casey Jackson held a large ceremony and joined in a domestic partnership in 2006.

“When I found out that the registered domestic partnership was going to roll over into a marriage … it would just roll over and that would happen, I personally was relieved. I thought well that’s great, save us a step. We knew we were going to go to the courthouse and file the paperwork,” he explained.

Fleming and Jackson have two twin girls and he says they wanted to raise them in a family, they wanted to be married. He says once their marriage is certified they’ll celebrate again, but he’s wondering what will happen with some of his friends.

“Then I started talking to my friends, and there was a lot of folks in the gay community that weren’t so thrilled with that idea. Some of them had registered and had since broken up, and hadn’t gone through the process of dissolving that domestic partnership. So now they need to get on that because they could easily be married … in a couple months,” he said.

Floyd says as long as couples start the dissolution paperwork by as late as June 29, the state won’t marry them right away.

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