Post R-71: Domestic partner registrations boom

Post R-71: Domestic partner registrations boom

dpartners copyIn the months since Washington lawmakers expanded the state’s domestic partnership law, the popularity of the program has steadily risen, most notably in the past two months.

Officials of the state domestic-partnership registry in the state Corporations and Charities Division say that since the Legislature created the registry three years ago, the average weekly sign-ups have between about 35 or 40.  The registry is for gay and lesbian couples who maintain a household together, and for heterosexual domestic partners where at least one of the partners is 62 or older.

Last spring, lawmakers passed a broad expansion of the law. The measure, Senate Bill 5688, was dubbed “everything but marriage” and grants to registered domestic partners the same benefits and responsibilities that married couples have.  The law was on hold until voters could decide its fate. Opponents placed Referendum 71 on the November ballot; the law was upheld 53-47, making it the first voter-approved domestic-partnership program in the country.   A number of states either allow same-sex marriage, civil unions or domestic partnerships.  U.S. District Court in San Francisco takes up the issue next week, considering California’s vote-approved ban on gay marriage.
In the first month after the new law took effect here on December 3, 236 couples signed up. That number was the largest monthly tally, except for November, when 260 couples registered after the public vote. November also was an “open enrollment” period for many insurance programs.   Other registration numbers for 2009: January, 81; February, 126; March, 112; April, 115; May, 143; June, 159; July, 117; August, 150; September, 177; and October, 191.

As of Friday, there were 6,823 couples on the registry. For more information, visit the website .

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