A new law authorizing domestic partnerships for same-sex couples went into effect on Monday in Washington State. Couples were in line long before the registration building opened in Olympia at 8 am, and throughout the day, over 155 couples celebrated their newly recognized partnerships.
Many of the couples registering on Monday acknowledged that, although domestic partnerships are an important first step, they will continue to fight for equal marriage rights for same-sex couples in the whole country. “I’m anxious for the day we will be legal in all states, not just this one,” Lee Wyman told the Herald Net, an Everett, Washington paper. “I look forward to the day I can say [my partner] is my husband,” Wyman added.
Washington has a law defining marriage exclusively as a union between a man and a woman. The law was upheld by the Washington Supreme Court in 2006. There also exists a federal Defense of Marriage Act defining marriage exclusively as between a man and a woman, and in 2003, conservative members of Congress unsuccessfully pursued making that law a constitutional amendment in order to permanently ban same-sex marriage.
The new Washington law also permits domestic partnerships for unmarried heterosexual couples if at least one partner is older than 62. Before, older people could lose pension rights and Social Security benefits if they married.