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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, April 1, 2011 - Volume 39 Issue 13
Laurie Jinkins' relationship recognition bill passes - Governor Gregoire promises to sign it
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Laurie Jinkins' relationship recognition bill passes - Governor Gregoire promises to sign it

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

On March 30, the Washington Senate passed a bill to recognize same-sex marriages concluded in other jurisdictions as valid domestic partnerships in Washington.

The vote was 28-19.

The bill, originally proposed by Rep. Laurie Jinkins (D-27), has already passed the state House of Representatives by a margin of 58-39. Jinkins is the state's first - and so far only - openly Lesbian legislator.

'I'm very pleased,' Jinkins told SGN on March 31. 'I'm a bit less ecstatic today than I was yesterday, but I'm still very pleased.'

Jinkins added she was 'especially pleased to see the margins open up, to see us get a larger margin every time our issues come up. It illustrates that the public is moving on our issues, and the legislature is moving.'

Gov. Christine Gregoire has said she would sign the bill into law

When she does, Washington will be the fourth state to approve a law recognizing same-sex marriages concluded out of state, following Rhode Island, New York, and Maryland.

'This bill is about making sure that people who love one another - and that love and friendship respected and honored in another state or another country - when they come here they have the same opportunity,' Sen. Kevin Ranker (D-40) said during debate on the measure.

As in the House, most of the Senate Yes votes came from Democrats. Five Republican senators also voted Yes.

Asked if she was surprised by Republican support for her bill, Jinkins said, 'No, actually. There are a lot of reasons to support it. There were freshman Republicans who voted in favor, who'd expressed support for domestic partnerships during their campaigns. They did what they said they would do.'

The surprise of the session came during committee hearings on the bill, when the ranking Republican member of the Senate Government Operations, Tribal Relations and Elections Committee, which had jurisdiction over the bill, voted to recommend passing it.

Veteran Senator Dan Swecker (R-20) has a long record of anti-Gay votes, but he voted to send the bill to the senate floor with a 'Do Pass' recommendation. He also voted Yes on final passage.

During committee hearings on the legislation, Swecker pointed out an analogy with marriage between first cousins - which some states prohibit - but which nevertheless would be recognized by Washington if they were legal in the jurisdiction where they were concluded.

Once it is signed into law by the governor, Jinkins' bill will amend state law to recognize same-sex marriages concluded in other jurisdictions as valid domestic partnerships in Washington.

State law previously excluded same-sex marriages from recognition.

The state's DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) prevents same-sex couples from marrying here, and prohibits state recognition of same-sex marriages concluded in other jurisdictions.

The measure stops short of recognizing out-of-state same-sex marriages as marriages, but it does accord same-sex couples all the privileges of opposite-sex spouses as provided for in this state's domestic partnership laws.

Jinkins' bill also says explicitly that it applies to any future legislation, so couples that fall under the provisions of the law would be entitled to any expansion of domestic partnership rights or benefits that might be passed in the future.

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