A new law in Washington State will soon give gay and lesbian couples all the same rights and benefits as married couples, except marriage.
Governor Chris Gregoire signed the measure Monday. The so-called “everything but marriage” bill expands on current domestic partnership laws. It adds spousal benefits and rights previously denied to some domestic partners, like workers’ compensation and disability insurance.
Chris Gregoire: “Despite the sameness, the absolute sameness of straight couples and gay and lesbian couples, nonetheless here in the state of Washington we saw discrimination. We saw inequality that had to be addressed.”
The new law also includes the right to use sick leave to care for a domestic partner, and the right to unpaid wages and benefits when a partner is injured or dies.
The law is scheduled to take effect at the end of July. But it faces a possible delay.
Opponents are trying to put a referendum on the November ballot that would repeal the legislation.
Nearly 5400 domestic partnership registrations have been filed in Washington in the past two years. Washington and Oregon are 2 of 5 states that recognize civil unions or domestic partnerships similar to marriage.