Same-sex marriage in Washington State
|Legal recognition of
† Not yet in effect
Same-sex marriage in Washington state has been legal since December 6, 2012.
On February 13, 2012, Washington Governor Christine Gregoire signed a same-sex marriage bill that had been passed by both houses of the state legislature. Voters approved the legislation in a referendum held on November 6, 2012. The law took effect on December 6. Within a couple of days, more than 600 same sex marriage licenses were issued in King County alone, and the first marriages were celebrated on December 9, 2012.
Singer v. Hara
In 1971 in Seattle, in one of the first same-sex marriage lawsuits in the U.S., gay activists John Singer (later known as Faygele ben Miriam) and Paul Barwick requested a marriage license from the King County auditor, Lloyd Hara, to demonstrate the inequality between gay and heterosexual couples. Hara refused, and Singer and Barwick brought suit on the grounds that the denial violated the Equal Rights Amendment of the state constitution. The Washington Court of Appeals denied the claim in 1974 in Singer v. Hara. The Washington Supreme Court refused to review the Court of Appeals' decision.
Andersen v. Sims
On March 8, 2004, six same-sex couples, backed by Lambda Legal, filed suit challenging the constitutionality of Washington's Defense of Marriage Act. The four constitutional claims were based on due process, privacy, equal protection, and gender equality. On August 4, 2004, King County Superior Court Judge William L. Downing issued an opinion in Andersen v. Sims that said the state had no rational basis for excluding same-sex couples from the rights and benefits of marriage. The decision concluded that the state law limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples violated sections of the constitution that required due process and equal protection of the laws. Full marriage was not required, but the opinion mandated the creation of a "civil union" status that gave all marriage rights and benefits to same-sex couples. His order was stayed pending appeal to the Washington Supreme Court.
Castle v. State
On April 1, 2004, eleven same-sex couples, backed by the American Civil Liberties Union, filed suit challenging Washington's laws that ban same-sex couples from marrying. It also seeks recognition of marriages performed legally in other jurisdictions. On September 7, 2004, Thurston County Superior Court Judge Richard D. Hicks issued an opinion in Castle v. State that said the state marriage laws violated the equal protection of privileges and immunities clause of the state constitution. The ruling was combined with Andersen on an appeal to the Washington Supreme Court.
Andersen v. King County
The two cases, Andersen v. Sims and Castle v. State, were consolidated for supreme court review as Andersen v. King County. The Washington Supreme Court heard oral arguments on March 8, 2005. On July 26, 2006, the Washington Supreme Court handed down a 5-4 ruling in favor of reversing the trial court. The majority opinion focused on the constitutionality of the legislature's enactment of the state's Defense of Marriage Act limiting the privileges of marriage to opposite-sex couples. In October 2006, the court refused to reconsider its ruling.
On January 10, 2007, the Washington Defense of Marriage Alliance filed Washington Initiative 957 (2007) to put one part of the Andersen decision into law by making procreation a requirement for all marriages in Washington State. The group's stated rationale was to prompt public examination of the premise that marriage exists for the purpose of procreation and to create a test case whereby Andersen could be struck down as unconstitutional. The initiative's sponsors withdrew it on July 3, 2007, after failing to gather a sufficient number of signatures to qualify for the November 2007 ballot.
2012 same-sex marriage bill
SB 6239, legalizing same-sex marriage and converting most domestic partnerships not dissolved within two years into marriages, was referred to the committee for Government Operations, Tribal Relations and Elections, where it passed on January 26, 2012. Four amendments were introduced by Republican Dan Swecker, and all failed on a party line vote of 3-4. Republican Don Benton asked for a referendum for the November 2012 ballot and the motion failed by a 3-4 vote. On January 26, 2012, the bill was reported out of the committee by a 4-3 vote and was sent to the Senate floor for a full vote. On February 1, 2012, SB 6239, passed the Senate by a vote of 28-21.
The House of Representatives took up the same measure as HB 2516. It was passed out of the Judiciary Committee on January 30 by a 7-6, strict party-line vote. They again voted on the Senate-approved version of the bill on February 6, passing it by a 7-5 vote, with one Republican committee member absent. The bill was sent to the floor of the House, where it was passed on February 8 by a vote of 55-43. The legislation also provided that all domestic partnerships not involving at least one member aged 62 years or older and not dissolved within two years of the date the law goes into effect will automatically become marriages.
Same-sex marriage referendum
Governor Gregoire signed the bill into law on February 13. The law was to take effect 90 days after the end of the legislative session but opponents blocked its implementation by collecting the signatures necessary to put the measure to a popular vote on November 6, 2012, as Referendum 74. In that referendum, voters approved the law by a 54%-46% margin. The law took effect on December 6. Because Washington requires a three-day waiting period (excluding the day of issue) for the celebration of a marriage, the first same-sex marriages in the state took place on December 9, 2012.
An October 2011 University of Washington poll found that 55% of Washington voters would vote to uphold a legislatively approved same-sex marriage bill if it were put to a referendum, while 38% would oppose it and 7% were undecided. A separate question on the same survey found that 43% of respondents thought that gay and lesbian couples should have the same right to marry as straight couples, 22% thought that gay and lesbian couples should have the same rights as straight couples without the word "marriage," 15% thought that gay and lesbian couples should have domestic partnerships with only some of the rights of marriage, 17% opposed all legal recognition, and 3% didn't know.
A February 2012 survey by Public Policy Polling found that 50% of Washington voters would vote to uphold a law which would legalize same-sex marriage, while 46% would vote to repeal it and 4% were not sure. On the same survey voters 49% thought that same-sex marriage should be legal, while 44% thought it should be illegal and 7% were not sure. When it comes to the options of marriage, civil unions, and no legal recognition, 46% feel that homosexual couples should be allowed to legally marry, 32% believe that gay couples should be allowed a civil union and just 20% are opposed to all legal recognition of gay relationships, 2% were not sure.
A June 2012 survey by Public Policy Polling found that 51% of Washington voters thought that same-sex marriage should be legal, while 42% thought it should be illegal and 7% were not sure.
A November 2012 survey by Public Policy Polling found that 54% of Washington voters thought that same-sex marriage should be legal, while 40% thought it should be illegal and 5% were not sure.
In 2006, a UCLA study estimated the impact of allowing same-sex couples to marry would have on Washington's state budget. The study concluded that allowing same-sex couples to marry would result in a net gain of approximately $3.9 million to $5.7 million each year for the state. This net impact would result from savings in state expenditures on means-tested public benefits programs and from an increase in sales tax revenue from weddings and wedding-related tourism.
- LGBT rights in Washington
- Domestic partnership in Washington state
- History of the LGBT community in Seattle
- Washington United for Marriage
- Pilkington, Ed (December 9, 2012). "Washington state kicks off day of gay marriages with midnight ceremonies". The Guardian. Retrieved December 9, 2012.
- La Corte, Rachel. "Washington Gay Marriage Law Takes Effect". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 15 March 2013.
- Beers, Carole (June 7, 2000). "Faygele benMiriam crusaded for rights". Seattle Times. Retrieved October 31, 2012.
- McNerthney, Casey (December 13, 2012). "Seattle gay rights pioneer recalls struggle for marriage equality: Paul Barwick and John Singer were first to apply for same-sex marriage in King County" (HTML). Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Retrieved December 13, 2012.
- "Gay Marriage’s Jewish Pioneer", Eli Sanders, The Tablet, June 6, 2012.
- "Anderson v. King County", Lambda Legal
- http://www.tvw.org/capitolrecord/index.php/2012/01/same-sex-marriage-bill-passes-in-senate-committee/ Washington Senate passes 4-3 in Committee
- "Wash. House committee approves gay marriage bill". Seattle Post Intelligencer. January 30, 2012.
- Justin Runquist (February 6, 2012). "Washington Legislature: Gay marriage bill moves through House Judiciary Committee". OregonLive.com.
- "Washington state legislature votes to approve same-sex marriage". CNN. February 8, 2012.
- Referendum 74: Frequently Asked Questions, Office of the Washington Secretary of State, June 2012
- Turnbull, Lornet (February 14, 2012). "Gregoire signs gay marriage into law". Seattle Times. Retrieved December 6, 2012.
- "Washington state House approves same-sex marriage". Seattle Post Intelligencer. February 8, 2012. Retrieved February 9, 2012.
- "Washington State Senate approves same-sex marriage". MSNBC. February 1, 2012.
- "Anti-gay-marriage measure qualifies for Wash. state ballot". USA Today. June 12, 2012. Retrieved July 2, 2012.
- "Referendum Measure No. 74 Concerns marriage for same-sex couples". Washington Secretary of State. Retrieved December 6, 2012.
- Connelly, Joel (November 8, 2012). "Washington approves same-sex marriage". Seattle Post Intelligencer. Retrieved December 6, 2012.
- "Gay Washington State Couples Get Marriage Licenses". ABC News. December 6, 2012. Retrieved December 6, 2012.
- "WA voters done with Rossi, not open to Kucinich bid" (PDF). Retrieved January 20, 2012.
- "2011 Washington Poll" (PDF). Retrieved January 20, 2012.
- http://www.publicpolicypolling.com/pdf/2011/PPP_Release_WA_222.pdf Voters Support Gay Marriage
- "McKenna takes lead in Wa. gubernatorial race". Public Policy Polling. Retrieved June 19, 2012.
- WA-Gov a toss up, Obama and gay marriage well ahead
- "eScholarship: The Impact of Washington's Budget of Allowing Same-Sex Couples to Marry". Repositories.cdlib.org. June 1, 2006. Retrieved January 20, 2012.
- Washington Revised Code - Title 26. Domestic relations - Chapter 04. Marriage
26.04.010. Marriage contract—Void marriages.
(1) Marriage is a civil contract between two persons who have each attained the age of eighteen years, and who are otherwise capable.
. . .
(3) Where necessary to implement the rights and responsibilities of spouses under the law, gender specific terms such as husband and wife used in any statute, rule, or other law must be construed to be gender neutral and applicable to spouses of the same sex.
(4) No regularly licensed or ordained minister or any priest, imam, rabbi, or similar official of any religious organization is required to solemnize or recognize any marriage. A regularly licensed or ordained minister or priest, imam, rabbi, or similar official of any religious organization shall be immune from any civil claim or cause of action based on a refusal to solemnize or recognize any marriage under this section. No state agency or local government may base a decision to penalize, withhold benefits from, or refuse to contract with any religious organization on the refusal of a person associated with such religious organization to solemnize or recognize a marriage under this section.
(5) No religious organization is required to provide accommodations, facilities, advantages, privileges, services, or goods related to the solemnization or celebration of a marriage.
(6) A religious organization shall be immune from any civil claim or cause of action, including a claim pursuant to chapter 49.60 RCW, based on its refusal to provide accommodations, facilities, advantages, privileges, services, or goods related to the solemnization or celebration of a marriage.
26.04.020. Prohibited marriages.
(4) A legal union, other than a marriage, between two individuals that was validly formed in another state or jurisdiction and that provides substantially the same rights, benefits, and responsibilities as a marriage, does not prohibit those same two individuals from obtaining a marriage license in Washington.
- Andersen v. Sims - August 2004 decision from the Superior Court in Washington State legalizing same-sex marriage. The decision awaited confirmation by the Washington Supreme Court before licences would have been issued, but was overturned.
- Andersen v. King County - the July 2006 decision from the Washington Supreme Court that overturned the lower trial court rulings.
- Links to PDF articles on all 6 Washington Supreme Court opinions issued over Andersen v. King County.