Marriage certificates in Washington state will look a little different next month. Terms like bride and groom will be out. The Department of Health wants to use something more gender-neutral, now that same–sex marriage is legal. The agency is taking suggestions at a public hearing on Wednesday.
You may be asking yourself, what’s the Department of Health doing worrying about marriage certificates? The agency is a repository for records of births and deaths, and everything else in between, like marriage and divorce.
“When you think about it, people need these records often, more so than ever before as they have to prove who they’re married to, when they were born, for things like passports, and other items. So we keep all of those records,” says Tim Church, spokesperson for the Department of Health
Church says the agency is trying to update the state’s marriage and divorce certificates to reflect the recently approved same-sex marriage law. To get ideas, Church says they looked at other states that have legalized same-sex marriage like Connecticut, Iowa and Massachusetts.
“Some states are using Spouse A and Spouse B. Some states are using Party A and Party B, or Person A and Person B," he said. "All of them are working for those individual states. We’re starting with a proposal of Spouse A and Spouse B, but we want to hear what other people think.”
So much for romance.
Church says the forms may ask for the couples’ gender. The agency wants to keep track of the number of same-sex marriages in the state. It hopes to have the new forms ready by December 9. That’s the first day same-sex couples can get married.