In July of 2007, Washington lawmakers created the domestic partner registry within the Office of the Secretary of State. In 2008, the rights and responsibilities of domestic partners were expanded, and in 2009, the “everything but marriage” law was adopted and withstood a referendum challenge.
From 2007 through 2011, 9,659 couples (19,318 individuals) have filed for Domestic Partnership through the Office of Secretary of State’s Corporations and Charities Division.
After the 2007 law was passed 3,159 registrations were filed, for an average of 527 domestic partnerships registering each month in 2007.
Since the original boom of 2007, registrations have ranged between 1,316 and 1,898 annually. The most common age group to file for domestic partnership status are those between the ages of 31-50, followed by older persons, ages 51-61.
The registry is open to both same-sex couples and opposite gender couples with at least one partner age 62 or older.
A total of 382 couples have since filed for dissolution. Dissolution rates are rather low, averaging at only seven monthly.
In order to qualify for domestic partnership recognition the couple must share a common residence, both persons must be at least 18, neither party may be married to, or in a domestic partnership with another person, both must be capable of consenting to the domestic partnership, the individuals cannot be nearer of kin to each other than second cousins, and either both are of the same sex, or at least one is 62 or older.
A domestic partnership allows for hospital visitation rights, as well as, allowed access to medical information, participation in health care decisions, recognition as a partner on a death certificate, the right to a partner’s estate, and the option to sue for the wrongful death of a partner.
If Marriage Equality legislation passes this session, and is upheld through a planned referendum challenge, same sex marriage will be legal in Washington beginning in December. Existing domestic partnerships, if not converted to marriage at the discretion of the couple, will gain the “marriage” title from the state by June 30, 2014. Domestic partner couples with at least one of the individuals being 62 or older will not be required to marry.
Here is a great chart showing the annual numbers, as of the end of December:
Image Courtesy of The Secretary of State’s Corporations and Charities Division