Same-sex marriage in Washington

Same-sex marriage in Washington

Same-sex marriage is not recognized in Washington state. The Washington Supreme Court would have made Washington the second U.S. state to recognize these unions if it had decided differently in two cases that had been consolidated for appeal. Oral arguments were heard on March 8, 2005, and in July, one of the justices indicated a ruling would very likely happen before the September primary election in the State. Several justices were facing reelection, and some had speculated the Court may have held off on its controversial ruling until after the elections. The 5-4 split decision overturning the trial court rulings was handed down on July 26, 2006. The decision held that the state legislature is permitted under the Washington's constitution to limit marriage to opposite-sex couples. While the state's ban on same-sex marriage (the Defense of Marriage Act of 1998) was upheld, the court noted that its ruling does not prevent the legislature from changing state law to allow same-sex marriage, and three majority justices in the case invited the legislature to take another look at the ban's effect on same-sex couples.

In 2007, the Washington State Legislature passed S5336, creating domestic partnership in Washington. It was approved 28–19 by the state senate and 63–35 by the house. Governor Christine Gregoire signed the bill into law and it took effect on 2007-07-22. [ [ Same-sex partnership bill passes in Washington State | News | ] ]

Civil suits for same-sex marriage

Andersen case

*March 8, 2004: Six same-sex couples, backed by Lambda Legal, file suit challenging the constitutionality of Washington's Defense of Marriage Act. The four constitutional claims are based on due process, privacy, equal protection, and gender equality.

*August 4, 2004: King County Superior Court Judge William L. Downing issues an opinion in "Andersen v. Sims" that said the state has 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 at least mandated the creation of a "civil union" status that gave all marriage rights and benefits. These requirements did not go into effect, however, because the opinion was stayed pending appeal to the Washington Supreme Court.

Castle case

*April 1, 2004: Eleven same-sex couples, backed by the American Civil Liberties Union, file suit challenging Washington's laws that bar same-sex couples from marrying. It also seeks recognition of marriages performed legally in other jurisdictions.

*September 7, 2004: Thurston County Superior Court Judge Richard D. Hicks issues 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 the Andersen case 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. The consolidated case was named "Andersen v. King County".

*March 8, 2005: Oral arguments are heard by the Washington Supreme Court.

*July 26, 2006: The Washington Supreme Court handed down its ruling (5-4 in favor of overturning the lower trial court rulings). The majority opinion focused on the constitutionality of the legislature's actions, which enacted the Defense of Marriage Act limiting the privileges of marriage to opposite-sex couples.

* August 29, 2006: Lawyers for the same-sex couples filed their motion under Supreme Court rules that allow either side in a lawsuit to seek reconsideration of a decision. The Court could reject the motion, ask the state for a written response, reverse their decision, or agree to re-hear oral arguments. There is no timetable, and requests are rarely accepted. [Turnbull, Lornet (2006). Second Look at Gay Marriage? "The Seattle Times", August 30, 2006, accessed online: [] .]

Initiative 957

On January 10, 2007, a group calling itself the Washington Defense of Marriage Alliance filed Initiative 957 to put one part of the "Andersen" decision into law by making procreation a requirement for all marriage in Washington State. The stated rationale is to prompt public examination on 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 was withdrawn by its sponsors on July 3, 2007 after receiving too few signatures to qualify for the November 2007 ballot.


Texts :
* [ Washington Revised Code] - Title 26. Domestic relations - Chapter 04. Marriage26.04.010. Marriage contract -- Void marriages.
"(1) Marriage is a civil contract between a male and a female who have each attained the age of eighteen years, and who are otherwise capable."26.04.020. Prohibited marriages.
"(1) Marriages in the following cases are prohibited: ...(c) When the parties are persons other than a male and a female."
"(3) A marriage between two persons that is recognized as valid in another jurisdiction is valid in this state only if the marriage is not prohibited or made unlawful under subsection ... (1)(c) ... of this section."

External links

* [ 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".
* [] - the website of the Washington Defense of Marriage Alliance.

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