State House lawmakers voted 58-39 Friday night to approve a bill to recognize same-sex marriages from out of state as valid domestic partnerships in Washington.
The bill sponsor, Rep. Laurie Jinkins, D-Tacoma, said she wants to correct what she sees as the unjust exclusion of same-sex marriages from protections for state-registered domestic partnerships.
"This bill is about fairness for all families," Jinkins said. "Right now, there's a hole in the law."
In 2009, voters moved to extend to domestic partnerships all the rights and protections granted to marriages.
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Current law recognizes out-of-state domestic partnerships and civil unions, but excludes same-sex marriage from that recognition. Jinkins said her bill would correct that disparity.
"This is not a big deal - we're not extending any new rights," she said. "It says if you have a marriage in another state, you get a domestic partnership here. You don't get marriage here - you get a domestic partnership."
Opponents argued this is just one step closer to allowing same-sex marriage in Washington state, and is directly undermining the state's Defense of Marriage Act that was passed in 1998 to define marriage as between a man and a woman.
Several representatives also voiced displeasure that this debate was taking place late on a Friday night, rather than "in broad daylight," when voters had a chance to hear what was going on.
But supporters said it's a technical correction, updating the law to include the several states and countries that now allow same-sex marriage.
The measure, HB 1649, now goes to the Senate.