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Notice regarding same sex marriage and domestic partnerships

NOTICE AS OF MARCH 15, 2014

On June 30, 2014, many, but not all, state registered domestic partnerships will be converted to marriage.

In 2012, a new law was passed, (http://apps.leg.wa.gov/billinfo/summary.aspx?bill=6239&year=2011) setting out specific criteria for which state registered domestic partnerships are to be converted and which are not.  In that law, our office was required to send two notices to all state registered domestic partnerships. The first one was sent in January 2013, and the second one was sent the week of March 15, 2014.

While the Secretary of State’s Office is responsible for filing state registered domestic partnerships, it is the Department of Health that is responsible for the conversion to marriage.  Here are some facts that may help you understand which partnerships are being converted and which are not:

  • If you are a same-sex couple and both of you are under 62, you will be converted to marriage.
  • If you filed a domestic partnership in a city, county, or other state or country, at any time, it will NOT be converted.  Only Washington state registered domestic partnerships will be converted.
  • If you are a heterosexual couple under 62 and you filed a state registered domestic partnership, it is an invalid partnership, as the law did not allow you to do so.  To file it, you signed an affidavit that at least one of you was 62 or over.  Our office may have taken you at your affirmed word and filed the document, but it does not make your partnership valid by law. If you know that you have done this, please contact our office before June 30, 2014.
  • If you are a heterosexual  or same-sex couple and one of you is 62 or over, the law will NOT allow you to convert a state registered domestic partnership to marriage. You may not “opt in” or “allow” the state to convert you.  The law specifically says that partnerships in which one person is 62 or over will not be converted.  However, you may marry at any time of your choosing.
  • If you dissolved your state registered domestic partnership in court in another state or country, or if you are in the process of dissolving it, call us at 360.725.0377, and let us know or send us a note by regular mail or email us at corps@sos.wa.gov .
  • If you dissolved your state registered domestic partnership in Washington, our office should have received notice of the dissolution.  You may check your state registered domestic partnership status at http://sos.wa.gov/corps/domesticpartnerships/ . Please contact us if the information does not look correct.
  • If you are in the process of dissolving your state registered domestic partnership in a Washington County, you should call us at 360.725.0377 and let us know.  In process dissolutions will not be converted to marriage if we are aware of them.
  • A couple should send in a copy of their marriage certificate to SOS if they marry before June 30.
  • A couple should send a copy of their dissolution court proceedings to SOS if they enter into the 90 day waiting period prior to June 30.
  • If you have any questions regarding your state registered domestic partnership, please see our frequently asked questions at http://www.sos.wa.gov/corps/domesticpartnerships/faq-2014.aspx or give us a call at 360.725.0377 and we’ll be happy to help you.

We recognize that couples may have questions about how the new law applies to their specific circumstances. If you have any questions or concerns about these changes, please contact us at corps@sos.wa.gov or 360-725-0377.