Laws and Regulations

History of Laws and Regulations pertaining to Domestic Partnerships in Washington State

In 2012, referendum 74 (R-74) was accepted by voters and was certified December 6, 2012. (See referendum 74 summary)

In 2012, the legislature passed SB 6239, concerning civil marriage and domestic partnerships. The changes included a new definition of marriage, a religious exemption, a new definition of state-registered domestic partnership, and reciprocity.  The final bill report may be found at the legislature's web site (See final bill report for SB6239).

In 2009, Referendum 71 (R-71) was accepted by voters and was certified on December 3, 2009. (See referendum 71 summary)

In 2009, ESSSB 5688  was effective and provided that for all purposes under state law, state registered domestic partners shall be treated the same as married spouses and that provisions of the act shall be liberally construed to achieve equal treatment, to the extent not in  conflict with federal law. (See final bill report for ESSSB 5688)

In 2008, the Legislature passed HB 3104 that provided for expanded rights and responsibilities for domestic partners in various areas of law. The amended laws generally involve dissolution's, community property, estate planning, taxes, court process, service to indigent veterans and other public assistance, conflicts of interest for public officials, and guardianship's. (See final bill report for HB 3104)

In 2008, the Office of the Secretary of State has promulgated rules for Domestic Partnerships (See WAC 434-112-100) and will provide updates at this web site from time to time.

In 2007, SB 5336 was passed by the legislature(See final bill report for SB 5336)  authorizing domestic partnerships in Washington for the first time. Under the new law, same-sex couples over the age of 18 and heterosexual couples in which one partner is over the age of 62 qualify for a domestic partnership. Eligible couples must also share a common residence. They cannot be closely related, married, or in a domestic partnership with another person. The 2007 laws made domestic partners eligible for a number of benefits, including:

  • Hospital visitation of a partner;
  • Participation in medical care decisions;
  • Access to health care information;
  • The administration of a deceased partner's estate;
  • Recognition as a domestic partner on a deceased partner's death certificate;
  • The ability to sue for wrongful death of a partner; and
  • The right to inherit property from a partner and to administer the partner's estate in the absence of a will.