State notifying thousands that partnerships will be marriages
The state will begin mailing notifications this week to thousands of couples in active domestic partnerships about a June 30 process that will convert many of their partnerships to marriage.
Seattle Times staff reporter
The Secretary of State this week is sending notices to nearly 7,500 couples in Washington registered as being in domestic partnerships.
The packet of information, to be sent to each partner, includes letters reminding couples that on June 30, the state will automatically convert their relationship to marriage if both of them are under age 62 and they’ve not converted their partnership to marriage or started the process to dissolve it.
By the latest count, about 6,200 couples face this automatic change in marital status as part of the same-sex marriage law that then-Gov. Chris Gregoire signed and voters approved in 2012.
The remaining 1,000-plus couples receiving the letter are in relationships, in which at least one person is 62 or older. They won’t be affected by this change — regardless of whether they are gay or straight.
Domestic partnerships will remain available to them and senior couples may continue to enroll.
Secretary of State Kim Wyman, whose office handles domestic partnerships, acknowledges some domestic partners remain unaware of the pending conversion or may not have considered the consequences, and said she wants to be sure no one is caught off-guard.
The conversion itself will be done, not by her office, but by the state Department of Health (DOH), which handles vital records.
Using data from the Secretary of State, the DOH will complete the conversions on June 30 for all same-sex couples, under 62, whose domestic partnerships are still active.
Those couples in converted relationships, as well as couples who have already married, may request copies of marriage certificates from the DOH beginning in July.
The DOH has set up an FAQ page to answer questions.
Those who had an out-of-state marriage or terminated their Washington domestic partnership elsewhere, should update their information with the Secretary of State by mail, email or phone.
In addition to the letter about the conversions, the packet being mailed includes a summary of the Marriage Equality Act; a sample of a marriage certificate and a letter from the DOH explaining the process.
Lornet Turnbull: 206-464-2420 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @turnbullL.