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What rights do same-sex couples have in Washington?

In 2012, same-sex marriage was legalized in Washington. Although most people may think two years is enough to get accustomed to the laws regarding same-sex couples, there are instances when same-sex partners, whether they are long-time Washington residents or new to the state, are not aware of their rights. For the benefit of same-sex couples, they should be informed of their rights and privileges under state laws.

Are the marriage requirements the same for straight couples and same-sex partners in Washington? Yes. Both parties should be at least 18-years-old. If they are younger than 18, they must get parental consent. They must not be presently married, in a civil union or a domestic partnership. If they are currently in a civil union or domestic partnership, they must dissolve the agreement before applying for marriage.

What if partners are already in a state-registered domestic partnership? Then applying for marriage can be a lot easier. Couples can apply for a married license, get married within 60 days and the marriage will automatically nullify the domestic partnership.

Can same-sex couples outside of Washington get married in the state? Yes. Washington has no residency laws when it comes to marriage, so couples who live in another state or plan to relocate in Washington can apply for a marriage license. Couples, however, should have the necessary legal documents in hand, like wills, powers of attorney and healthcare directives.

Can same-sex couples divorce in Washington? Yes. However, while there are no residency requirements in marriage, in a divorce, one partner should be a resident of the state. For military personnel, a partner should be stationed in the state. Otherwise, the couple will remain legally married.

Source: Aclu-wa.org, "Marriage for Same-Sex Couples in Washington State," Accessed on Dec. 24, 2014

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