June 29, 07
V 35 Issue 26

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Friday, Jul 10, 2020



Local advocacy groups give domestic partnership pointers
Local advocacy groups give domestic partnership pointers
State domestic partner registry to begin July 23 br />
by Lisa Wardle - SGN Staff Writer

As far as long-term couples go, Rod Parke and Dale Burke have had what could be described as a fairly typical relationship.

The accordingly sentimental "how we met" story? Check. They've got it down pat (they made sweet music together as 2nd tenors in the Seattle Men's Chorus).

Glowing reviews about how wonderful their 26 years together have been, or the inability to imagine life without each other? Another check (Rod credits Dale with daring him to do most of the major moves in his life, from reviewing the Seattle Men's Chorus for the Seattle Gay News to indulging in horticulture).

How to secure any form of legal protection for their relationship, for issues like inheritance or health insurance benefits? Well... The comparisons (to heterosexual couples, at least) stop there.

Inspired by Washington State's passage of the Domestic Partnership Bill in April, Rod and Dale have decided to register as domestic partners. They'd considered getting married in Canada or another state, or waiting until Washington State legalized marriage fore same-sex couples.

Instead, they've decided they cannot wait any longer. After the new law takes effect on July 23, 2007, they will choose a date to register.

"We're no longer so politically correct about the details and philosophies of marriage versus domestic partnership," says Rod. "Yes, we should not have to make such concessions, but it's what we've got at this time."

Okay, great. So they'll be domestic partners. But what does that really mean? How do a couple even begin the process of registering as domestic partners?

As Rod says, "I'm afraid we haven't looked much at the nitty-gritty of it."

In response to such confusion about registering for domestic partnerships in Washington State, a dream team of advocacy groups have collaborated to put out a brochure on the matter. A sort of "Domestic Partnerships for Dummies," if you will.

Equal Rights Washington (ERW), the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington, Lambda Legal, Northwest Women's Law Center, and QLaw are releasing the brochure. In addition, the ACLU has released a questions and answers-type informational sheet, hoping to quell confusion about the domestic partnership registry.

Highlights from the information pieces range from answering the question of who may register as domestic partners, to showing the benefits of registering. Among the specific benefits of a registered domestic partnership listed: hospital visitation rights, medical care rights, rights when a partner dies, inheritance rights, rights to sue for wrongful death, burial rights, and health insurance benefits for state employees.

The questions & answers sheet also tackles this issue: should committed couples register with the state? For instance, the ACLU warns, "It is unclear whether and how the military might use the 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy." Indeed, it is these and other important considerations that the myriad of groups involved in raising awareness about the domestic partnership registry want couples to consider prior to registering.

As for the administrative red tape that Rod and Dale fear? Couples may register as domestic partners by signing a "Declaration of State Registered Domestic Partnership Form." The form will be available starting July 16 of this year from the Secretary of State ( or your local county clerk. The signatures must be notarized on the form, which then should be sent with the filing fee (yet to be determined, but not to exceed $50) to: Office of the Secretary of State, Corporations Division, P.O. box 40234, Olympia, WA 98504.

With another Pride season now a part of their past, the "how-to" information is coming at a crucial time for couples like Rod and Dale.

"Marrying would also be symbolic, but registering as domestic partners is more or a legal matter for us," says Rod. "It's very important should we ever have to fight for the rights of survivorship, hospital visitation, etc."

To download the "The Legal Rights of Registered Domestic Partners in Washington State" brochure, visit, or, for the ACLU's Q&A sheet, visit


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