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Originally published April 15, 2009 at 4:29 PM | Page modified April 16, 2009 at 12:54 PM

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Washington Legislature expands gay partnerships

Same-sex domestic partners would have all the rights and benefits that Washington state offers married couples under a bill that passed the state Legislature Wednesday.

Associated Press Writer

Rollcall | How state representatives voted

Yeas: 62
Nays: 35
Absent: 0
Excused: 1

Voting Yea:
Representatives Appleton, Blake, Carlyle, Chase, Clibborn, Cody, Conway, Darneille, Dickerson, Driscoll, Dunshee, Eddy, Ericks, Finn, Goodman, Grant-Herriot, Green, Haigh, Hasegawa, Hudgins, Hunt, Hunter, Hurst, Jacks, Johnson, Kagi, Kelley, Kenney, Kessler, Kirby, Liias, Linville, Maxwell, McCoy, Moeller, Morrell, Morris, Nelson, O'Brien, Ormsby, Orwall, Pedersen, Pettigrew, Probst, Quall, Roberts, Rolfes, Santos, Seaquist, Sells, Simpson, Springer, Sullivan, Takko, Upthegrove, Van De Wege, Wallace, Walsh, White, Williams, Wood, and Mr. Speaker

Voting Nay:
Representatives Alexander, Anderson, Angel, Armstrong, Bailey, Campbell, Chandler, Condotta, Cox, Crouse, Dammeier, DeBolt, Ericksen, Haler, Herrera, Hinkle, Hope, Klippert, Kretz, Kristiansen, McCune, Miloscia, Orcutt, Parker, Pearson, Priest, Roach, Rodne, Ross, Schmick, Shea, Short, Smith, Taylor, and Warnick

Excused:
Representative Flannigan

Source: Washington State Legislature

Rollcall | How state senators voted

Yeas: 30
Nays: 18
Absent: 0
Excused: 1

Voting Yea:
Senators Berkey, Brandland, Brown, Eide, Fairley, Franklin, Fraser, Haugen, Hobbs, Jacobsen, Jarrett, Kastama, Kauffman, Keiser, Kilmer, King, Kline, Kohl-Welles, Marr, McAuliffe, McDermott, Murray, Oemig, Pflug, Prentice, Pridemore, Ranker, Regala, Rockefeller, and Tom

Voting Nay:
Senators Becker, Benton, Carrell, Delvin, Hargrove, Hatfield, Hewitt, Holmquist, Honeyford, McCaslin, Morton, Roach, Schoesler, Sheldon, Shin, Stevens, Swecker, and Zarelli

Excused:
Senator Parlette

Source: Washington State Legislature

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OLYMPIA, Wash. —

Same-sex domestic partners would have all the rights and benefits that Washington state offers married couples under a bill that passed the state Legislature Wednesday.

After nearly two hours of debate, the House approved the Senate-passed measure on a mostly party-line 62-35 vote. It now goes to Gov. Chris Gregoire, who said she will sign it into law.

"Our state is one that thrives on diversity," Gregoire said in a statement. "We have to respect and protect all of the families that make up our communities."

The bill expands on previous domestic partnership laws by adding such partnerships to all remaining areas of state law where currently only married couples are mentioned. The statutes range from labor and employment rights to pensions and other public employee benefits.

"This bill completes our work on domestic partnerships by making sure that we state clearly our intention to treat domestic partners in our state equally," said Rep. Jamie Pedersen, D-Seattle, the bill's sponsor and one of six gay lawmakers in the Legislature.

Pedersen said it was important to give gay and lesbian families "greater certainty that they'll be entitled to the same respect and the same protection that we bestow on all families."

As of Wednesday, more than 5,000 domestic partnership registrations had been filed since July 2007.

Two Republicans voted for the bill, Reps. Norm Johnson of Yakima and Maureen Walsh of College Place. One Democrat voted against it, Rep. Mark Miloscia of Federal Way.

Opponents said the measure will have a detrimental effect on traditional marriage.

"We cannot elevate the legal standing of domestic partnerships to equate with marriage and not have profound impact on the status of marriage in this state," said Rep. Jay Rodne, R-Snoqualmie.

The underlying domestic partnership law, which Sen. Ed Murray, D-Seattle, spearheaded two years ago, provided hospital visitation rights, the ability to authorize autopsies and organ donations, and inheritance rights when there is no will.

Last year, lawmakers expanded that law to give domestic partners standing under laws covering probate and trusts, community property and guardianship.

To be registered as partners, couples must share a home, must not be married or in a domestic relationship with someone else, and be at least 18.

In a provision similar to California law, under the underlying law in this state, unmarried heterosexual senior couples also are eligible for domestic partnerships if one partner is at least 62. Lawmakers said that provision is needed to help seniors who are at risk of losing pension rights and Social Security benefits if they remarry.

Iowa, Vermont, Connecticut and Massachusetts have legalized gay marriage. Same-sex marriage was legal in California for five months until a state referendum to ban it passed last fall.

Bills to allow same-sex marriage are currently before lawmakers in New Hampshire, Maine, New York and New Jersey.

New Jersey, California, New Hampshire, Oregon, Washington and the District of Columbia have laws that either recognize civil unions or domestic partnerships that afford same-sex couples similar rights to marriage. Thirty states have gay marriage bans in their constitutions.

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The domestic partnership bill is Senate Bill 5688.

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On the Web:

Washington state Legislature: http://www.leg.wa.gov

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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