Currently, Washington state offers no legal recognition for gay marriage. The state enacted the Defense of Marriage in 1998 and the act was upheld by the courts. In fact, the State's Supreme Court decided that the state did indeed, have the power to limit marriage to opposite sex couples. Yet, the language of the law only forbid same sex marriage, not recognition of other same sex relationships in Washington.
Marriage was seen as unique by its definition,
However, Washington state marriage laws do allow for the recognition of
domestic partnership as long as it is defined as such. With this legal recognition,comes
the right, benefits and responsibilities generally reserved for marriage in Washington
state. Marriage's only benefit over domestic partnership, is the right to call
the union a marriage.
In Washington state, marriage is sill defined as a union between one man and one woman. However, domestic partnerships entitles same sex couples to many rights that they do not have in many states. For instance, same sex couples are able to inherit property from each other, even in the absence of a will. In addition, they can own property and assets jointly. Domestic abuse laws also apply to domestic partners, when they do not apply in many other states. One aspect of marriage that many people fail to think about, is the right to not testify against a spouse.
In Washington state, marriage and domestic partnership entitled partners to the right to avoid testifying against their partners in a court of law. In addition, domestic partners are entitled to a legal dissolution of their relationship.
While there are a few restrictions, couples are entitled to the same rights as divorce. For example, one partner may be entitled to alimony payments or child support. In addition, the property and assets will be distributed according to the rules of the court, as they would apply to divorce in Washington. Marriage receives no special considerations over domestic partnerships.
In Washington, marriage is defined as a union between an opposite sex couple. However, domestic partnership entitles couples to the same rights as a married couple in Washington State. Marriage and domestic partnerships are seen as equal by the courts when they begin and in the even that they end.
Couples in both relationships, are entitled to a legal recognition for their relationship, in addition to a legal recognition should the relationship end in Washington. Marriage is seen as a separate relationship from domestic partnerships, but both relationships enjoy the same rights and responsibilities.