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Statement on Domestic Partner benefits–Referendum 71

The Friends Committee on Washington State Public Policy (FCWPP) recommends approval of Referendum 71, affirming the adoption of SB 5688 by the Washington State Legislature in 2009 to extend to domestic partners all of the legal benefits afforded to married persons.

Background: SB 5688 was adopted by the 2009 Washington State Legislature with the intent that for all purposes under state law, state registered domestic partners must be treated the same as married spouses. Agencies must amend their rules to reflect the intent of the Legislature to ensure that all privileges, immunities, rights, benefits, or responsibilities granted or imposed by statute to an individual because that individual is or was a spouse in a marital relationship are granted or imposed on equivalent terms to an individual because that individual is or was in a state registered domestic partnership.

The terms spouse, marriage, marital, husband, wife, widow, widower, next of kin, and family are interpreted as applying equally to state-registered domestic partnerships as well as to marital relationships and married persons, and references to dissolution of marriage apply equally to state-registered domestic partnerships that have been terminated, dissolved, or invalidated, to the extent that such interpretation does not conflict with federal law. Gender specific terms such as husband and wife used in any statute, rule, or other law are construed to be gender neutral, and applicable to individuals in state-registered domestic partnerships. A prior non-judicial termination process available to domestic partners is repealed.

For a more complete summary of prior law and the bill’s adoption process, go to S2.E%20SBR%20FBR%2009.pdf.

Friends’ Principles:

FCWPP’s Policy Statement, adopted in 1997, contains the following:

Section 2: Civil rights and liberties. Today’s civil rights issues challenge us to see what love can do. Ours should be a society where human beings are accepted on their merits. The demands of justice call for drawing upon every spiritual resource: faith that we are all one family under God and should live together in respect; love to overcome the hatred and bitterness engendered by centuries of oppression and discrimination; earnestness to move with more than deliberate speed…

We acknowledge that some progress has been achieved in reducing unjust discrimination on the basis of creed, gender, age, sexual orientation, disability, and race or ethnic heritage. Continued progress is needed…. Pacific Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends, in a minute adopted on July 19, 1997, stated:

NPYM of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) is deeply concerned that access to civil marriage is presently denied to gay and lesbian couples. This injustice brings legal, financial and social discrimination against lesbian and gay couples and their children. We, therefore, support legal recognition of the marriages of gay and lesbian couples to permit them the same legal rights and responsibilities that pertain to heterosexual married couples.

The full minute is available at

Adopted September 23, 2009.

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