Coast to Coast: LGBT Rights Advance in Washington and New Hampshire

Governor Chris Gregoire of Washington signed a domestic partnership bill.

Governor Chris Gregoire of Washington signed a domestic partnership bill on Apr 21 that will give same-sex couples rights such as hospital visitation and inheritance. The measure won final passage in the Washington legislature earlier in the month.

In order to be eligible for the domestic partnership registry created by the legislation, Washington couples will need to share a home, not be married or in a domestic relationship with someone else, and be at least 18. Unmarried heterosexual senior couples will also be eligible for domestic partnerships if one partner is at least 62.

Advocates such as out gay state senator Ed Murray (pictured right) acknowledge that full marriage equality is their ultimate goal. Last July, the state Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of Wash-ington’s anti-gay marriage laws. Only recently was a state law adopted to add sexual orientation as a category, such as race and religion, requiring protection from discrimination.

Across the country, New Hampshire will become the fourth state in the union to offer civil unions when Governor John Lynch signs newly passed legislation as promised. Lawmakers there voted on Apr 26 to authorize civil unions, joining New Jersey, Connecticut and Vermont in providing the benefit to same-sex couples.

The measure in New Hampshire would take effect Jan 1.