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March 12, 2009


Tuesday evening the Washington State Senate passed Senate Bill 5688 by a vote of 30 to 18. Dubbed the "everything but marriage" bill, this legislation would bestow on same-sex domestic partners all of the state rights and benefits afforded to straight married couples. The House is also expected to pass this and Governor Chris Gregoire, a Democrat, has said she supports the measure and will sign it.

In 2007, Washington approved a Domestic Partnership bill introduced by Seattle Democratic Sen. Ed Murra and last year the state amended that bill to include additional coverages. With those two actions, same-sex partners were granted hospital visitation rights, the ability to authorize autopsies and organ donations and inheritance rights when there is no will.

Now, with passage of this most recent upgrade amendment, spearheaded by gay state senator Ed Murray, a Seattle Democrat, same-sex partners will have all of the benefits of heterosexual married couples. The bill adds domestic partners to all remaining areas of state law where currently only married couples are addressed. This includes statutes ranging from labor and employment to pensions and other public employee benefits.

Washington state now joins California and Oregon as the only three states that endow Domestic Partnerships with the identitical state rights and responsibilities that straight marriages have had all along.

Unfortunately, this does not include any federal rights. However, with the anticipated repeal of DOMA by our current congress and the promised equality of all federal partnership rights by President Obama, this remaining inequity should be resolved. Hopefully sooner rather than later.

Sources for this article were: The Seattle Times, The Advocate and Box Turtle Bulletin

UPDATE 3/14...
As an interesting side note, Republican State Senator Dale Brandland, who voted for passage of the above bill and was also the former Whatcom County sheriff, said in an interview in the Bellingham Herald:

"I guess from my perspective, I've come to the conclusion that people are born gay. I don't think this is something that they just pick up along the way. Once I came up with that kind of conclusion, it wasn't difficult for me to understand that gay people are going to develop feelings for people of the same sex and will want to get into meaningful relationships.

"I thought it was inappropriate to deny them some of the basic rights that relationship entails."

Senator Brandland and two other Republicans defied a feverish blog and email campaign mounted by Gary Randall, President of the statewide Faith and Freedom Network whose promotional tag is "Advancing Judeo-Christian Values."

To counter Randall's campaign, a prominent Seattle liberal weekly newspaper, The Stranger, began waging war in favor of the bill on its blog. Locals also took to the social networking site Facebook to advocate support of the bill.

Let's hope this is a trend that takes hold across the country and ultimately buries the religious, right wing fanatics under the bile of their own lies and hatreds.

The Advocate also reported the following exchange between Ashton Kutcher and another user on Twitter:

Actor Ashton Kutcher, in a heated conversation with another user on Twitter, used the micro-blogging site to urge people to stop using the word "gay" as an insult. "can we just get clear, calling some one 'gay' or 'fag' is as derogatory as calling someone a 'ni**er'. U look like an idiot when you do it," he wrote on Wednesday. Another user had told him to "stop being so gay." After Kutcher's reply, the other user replied, "just jokin, no disrespect bro."

Thanks Ashton. You always were one of the good guys!