July 20, 2007
V 35 Issue 29

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DP Registry: Secretary of States prepares for long lines on day one
DP Registry: Secretary of States prepares for long lines on day one
"Monday is going to be an important day," said ERW's Josh Friedes.

by Robert Raketty - SGN Staff Writer

The Secretary of State's office has issued advisories for same-sex couples and senior citizens who will travel to Olympia on Monday, July 23, to file paperwork for Washington's new domestic partner registry, which provides limited rights once reserved only for marriage to couples of the same-sex and where one partner is over the age of 62.

An official who spoke with the Seattle Gay News this week suggested people plan ahead and pack their patience. "We are finding out that there is a whole lot of folks that want to be there on day one, so we are going to everything we possibly can to prepare for it," said Assistant Secretary of State Steve Excell, "We have been notified by some organizations that they are bringing as many as 150 couples or 80 couples. Physically, with all the windows open and all the computers running, we can probably only do 150 to 175 transactions in a day.

"We have our building operating at full capacity. We have all staff ready to work overtime and give up their lunch breaks and, so forth, to try and process as many forms as we can do."

The Secretary of State's office said it extended its hours at the Dolliver Building (801 Capitol Way S., Olympia), where the applications for the Domestic Partner Registry will be accepted. Porta-potties, umbrellas and, even, beverages will be on hand to meet the expected demand. The disabled will be moved to the front of the line to avoid having to stand for long periods of time.

On its website ( the Secretary of State's Office has posted a fillable PDF Domestic Partner Registry form that can be printed out, a list of frequently asked questions and information about a free shuttle for those concerned about parking.

"We encourage people to use the fillable PDF form on our website. Fill it out electronically. Print that off. Have your form notarized before you get to Olympia. That will speed things up," said Excell. "Of course, we will process applications no matter how they come in, including handwritten on that day. We will have crash carts full of clip boards and paperwork. We will have free notaries working the line ... providing their notary service for free to anyone who needs it."

Josh Friedes, Advocacy Director for Equal Rights Washington, says his organization, which advocates for the rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people in Washington State, also expects a sizable turnout on the first day of the registry. "We expect there to be a couple hundred couples who go to register on Monday," he said. "A significant number will also mail in their registrations."

To avoid the long lines, Excell recommends couples mail in their application or file the paperwork later in the week.

When people arrive, they will be given a number. People will be allowed to leave the line and return later, should they receive a high number. The number can also be used on day two, for those who were not served.

"Some time mid-morning, we will know precisely how fast the processing is going and we'll be able to tell those in line who will be able to get through the first day and those that will not," said Excell. "Couples whose forms are processed that day will go home with certificate and wallet ID card. The people there on the second day will still be able to get the first day's date on their registration forms. We think we can do that."

Friedes said he expects to see a celebratory mood outside the Dolliver Building, but noted that advocate for marriage equality would not rest until same-sex couples are entitled to the same privileges, rights and responsibilities married heterosexual couples enjoy.

"Monday is going to be an important day. It marks an important milestone for the [LGBT] community and it marks the first time same-sex families have had a safety-net in Washington State," said Friedes. "The Domestic Partnership Bill gives couples about two-dozen of the protections of marriage equality. So, it is a small package, but it is a step in the right direction. For many families, it will provide protections that they never had before."

Two handouts discuss the pros and cons of the Domestic Partner Registry. ERW, the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington, Lambda Legal, Northwest Women's Law Center, and QLaw authored "The Legal Rights of Registered Domestic Partners in Washington State" brochure, which is available for download from The ACLU also offers a questions and answers sheet on their website,


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