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Originally published Sunday, May 17, 2009 at 12:02 AM

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Gregoire set to OK more domestic partner rights

Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire is set to sign into law a measure that would expand the state's domestic partnership law to include "everything but marriage." The bill would give additional spousal rights and benefits to domestic partners, including same-sex couples and unmarried senior heterosexual couples, in various areas of state law.

Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire is set to sign into law a measure that would expand the state's domestic partnership law to include "everything but marriage." The bill would give additional spousal rights and benefits to domestic partners, including same-sex couples and unmarried senior heterosexual couples, in various areas of state law.

Among them:

-The right to use sick leave to care for a domestic partner.

-The right to wages and benefits when a domestic partner is injured, and to unpaid wages upon the death of a domestic partner.

-The right to unemployment and disability insurance benefits.

-The right to workers' compensation coverage.

-Insurance rights, including rights under group policies, policy rights after the death of a domestic partner, conversion rights and continuing coverage rights.

-Rights related to adoption, child custody and child support.

-Business succession rights.

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The current domestic partnership law already addresses:

-Some public assistance provisions, such as access to state-funded domestic violence shelters.

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-Rights and obligations for public officials' domestic partners to file public disclosure reports.

-Probate and trust laws.

-Guardianship and power of attorney issues.

-Judicial process and victim rights, including testimonial privileges that allow domestic partners the right to refuse to testify against each other in court.

-Dissolution, parenting plans and child support laws.

-Community property and other property rights and responsibilities.

-Homestead exemption laws.

-Health care facility visitation rights.

-Ability to grant consent for health care for a partner who is not competent. Health care providers can disclose patient information to the patient's partner.

-Title and rights to cemetery plots and rights of interment.

-Right to control disposition of a deceased partner's remains, including right to make anatomical gifts, authorize autopsies and consent to remove partner's remains from a cemetery plot.

-Inheritance rights when the domestic partner dies without a will.

-Administration of an estate if the domestic partner dies without a will or if the named representative declines or is unable to serve.

-Making domestic partners beneficiaries of wrongful-death actions. Lawsuits for wrongful death could be brought on behalf of a surviving domestic partner.

-Requiring that information recorded on death certificates include domestic partnership status.

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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