Openly gay Washington state legislators Sen. Ed Murray and Rep. Jamie Pedersen have both introduced legislation that would offer same-sex couples within the states all the benefits of a civil marriage.
“This is everything but marriage,” Pedersen told The Seattle Times.
Murray sponsored the state’s domestic partnership law in 2007. That law provides same-sex couples with hospital visitation rights, the ability to authorize autopsies and organ donations and inheritance rights when there is no will. Currently, nearly 5,000 couples have become registered through the law.
The 110-page bill makes changes to all remaining areas of state law where currently only married couples are addressed. The bill would add same-sex domestic partners to state statutes ranging from labor and employment to pensions and other public employee benefits.
“Although we view this as an improvement that provides real and concrete protections to same-sex partners, it’s an inadequate substitute for marriage,” Pedersen said. “Our hope is that the continuing success of this legislation helps people understand what marriage is, and that it gets them more comfortable with treating all families with equality dignity and respect.”
Pedersen and Murray said that a same-sex marriage measure, also introduced Tuesday, is unlikely to go anywhere this year, but is meant to spark further discussion.
“It’s entirely possible that next year, enough things might have changed that we feel like it’s time to make a run at the marriage bill,” Pedersen said. “We’re not there now. But it’s not out of the question.”