Thursday, July 26, 2007

State of Washington's Domestic Partnership Law

On July 23, 2007, at 8 a.m., gay and lesbian couples (along with couples in which one of the two people is 62 years of age or older) were allowed to register as domestic partners under a newly enacted law in Washington State. Details about the law—including the text of the law itself—can be found at the following website:

The law provides a limited set of rights for couples who register as domestic partners, including:
  • the right to visit one's partner in the hospital
  • the right to make medical decisions for one's partner
  • the right to receive information from a partner's health care providers about that partner's condition
  • the right to administer the estate of a partner who dies without a will
  • inheritance rights if one's partner dies without a will
  • the right to be listed on a deceased partner's death certificate
  • the right to authorize a partner's autopsy and to receive copies of a partner's autopsy reports and records
  • the right to control the disposition of a deceased partner's remains (as well as the right to make anatomical gifts)
  • the right to be buried as a couple
  • the right to seek damages in a civil action for a partner's wrongful death

The proponents of the new law plan to add additional rights in future legislative sessions. What rights (and duties) do you think should be added next (keeping in mind that the state legislature can only address state, not federal, rights)?

As someone who specializes in evidence law, a right that I would like to see added is the right to prevent your domestic partner from being forced to testify against you in court, as well as the right to prevent one's former domestic partner from testifying about confidential communications made between one another when you were "partnered" (that word doesn't roll off the tongue quite like the word "married," does it?).

What else should be on the high priority list? If you could pick one right or duty added in the next legislative session, what would it be?

1 comment:

Mary Whisner said...

I'd like to see a presumption of parenthood: if one partner bears a child, the other should be presumed to be a parent.

This would affect many lesbian couples and also, now that I think of it, the heterosexual domestic partnerships where the man is over 62 and the woman is still of child-bearing age.