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Thursday, November 8, 2012

What Happens If I'm Already Domestic Partnered in Washington State? What Happens If I Live Here But Was Gay Married in Another State? Answers! Answers! Answers!

Posted by on Thu, Nov 8, 2012 at 1:00 PM

Jamie Pedersen: Has answers!
  • Jamie Pedersen: Has answers!
We've already looked at exactly when gay marriages can start, and what the courthouse wedding deal will be.

But you have more questions! And we have more answers! (Courtesy of gay logistics whiz Jamie Pedersen.)

Q: Now that gay marriage is becoming legal in Washington, what happens for people who already got gay-married in another state?

"If you got married in another state before, then there is no need to get married again in Washington," Pedersen says. "Your marriage will be respected and given legal effect as a marriage by the state of Washington effective December 6. I think that the lawyers who work around the country on marriage equality generally discourage people from getting married in multiple jurisdictions (because our argument has always been that our legal relationship status should be portable, just like heterosexual marriages). That said, I think it is likely that many folks who got married elsewhere will want to do it legally here. Although it is unnecessary, I don’t see any legal problems with doing so. (As long as you are marrying the same person!)"

Q: What happens for people who are already domestic partnered in Washington State?

"If you have a registered domestic partnership in Washington, then you have three choices," Pedersen says. "A) Get married. You can do this anytime after December 6, just like any other couple. B) Dissolve your domestic partnership (which requires going to court, just like dissolution of a marriage). C) Do nothing, which would mean that on June 30, 2014, your domestic partnership will automatically convert into a marriage. The date of your marriage would be considered the date of your original domestic partnership registration.

"The only small footnote is that that applies to couples where neither partner will be 62 or older by June 30, 2014. If one partner will be 62 or older by June 30, 2014, then the 'do nothing' option would lead to their remaining domestic partners."

Q: And why, exactly, is there this provision for older domestic partners staying domestic partners?

"In the original 2007 Domestic Partnership bill," Pedersen says, "we made the decision to include senior heterosexual couples (as had CA and NJ), largely to increase our base of support. We heard from a number of senior groups that remarriage penalties caused them to lose pension or other rights if they formally married a new partner after having lost a spouse. In other cases, it had more to do with cultural or family pressure not to reMARRY (the idea being that it was somehow disrespectful to the deceased spouse). So they were shacking up without legal protection for the new relationship—but it seemed appropriate for them to have health care decisionmaking and other rights that came with domestic partnership if they wanted them. And then in fact, about 10% of the folks who signed up for DPs were senior heterosexual couples. (We have never run the numbers on how many of the same-sex couples were seniors).

"So as we moved toward marriage equality, one of our biggest questions was how to handle the nearly 10,000 families who had registered as DPs. We decided to keep them available for seniors (for the reasons mentioned above) and close off that option for younger same-sex couples (largely to avoid the charge that same-sex couples would have any special rights)."

Q: Can only Washington State residents get gay married under the new law, or can anyone come here and get gay married?

"There is no residency requirement to get married," Pedersen says. "However, there is a residency requirement to dissolve a marriage (with a few small exceptions, mostly related to military service). So, folks who live in other states should give some thought to that before they come to WA to marry."

Q: Wait, so a couple can't get un-married unless they can both prove Washington residency?

"Just one spouse needs to be a resident," Pedersen says. "But yes, generally speaking, as a policy matter, Washington did not want to become a divorce magnet like Nevada, so it requires that there be a residency connection to the state for a couple to dissolve a marriage here."


Comments (25) RSS

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Can you marry the same person multiple times? I'm straight married, and I had to declare my marital status (divorced) and produce papers to that effect. If I were already married in another state, I'd have to say my marital status was married, and that would exclude me from getting married again.

I'd have thought the only option would be a renewal of vows, on a secular or religious basis, but not an actual re-wedding.
Posted by originalcinner on November 8, 2012 at 1:05 PM · Report this
"We heard from a number of senior groups that remarriage penalties caused them to lose pension or other rights if they formally married a new partner after having lost a spouse."

I understand why they don't want to screw senior domestic partners just because the gays got their way under a new law. But becoming DP'd to avoid remarriage penalties seems sketchy to me. They basically created a new class of marriage with a different name to encourage citizens to cheat existing contracts that use the word "marriage". Either the penalties shouldn't exist or people shouldn't be able to cheat.
Posted by Lumpmoose on November 8, 2012 at 1:17 PM · Report this
psbirch 3
You can marry the same person multiple times, but only once per state so far as I understand.

There are warm and fuzzy human interest stories floating around the internet about couples that get remarried in a new state every year on their anniversaries.
Posted by psbirch on November 8, 2012 at 1:18 PM · Report this
This excellent post dovetails nicely with one of my favorite mental images when I need a smile: "Jamie Petersen explaining cheerfully." Of course, in my vision he has just gotten a perm. I don't know why.
Posted by gloomy gus on November 8, 2012 at 1:20 PM · Report this
Catalina Vel-DuRay 5
Can same sex couples still register as DP's prior to December 6th, and then just have the state convert it on 6/30/14? That seems like the easiest and cheapest option for people who don't want to go through a ceremony.
Posted by Catalina Vel-DuRay on November 8, 2012 at 1:21 PM · Report this
So if I'm gay-married in California (which I am/we are) and have a DP here (ditto), and we don't want to wait until 2014 to be married here (we don't), do we *have* to dissolve our DP and get married? Do we produce our CA marriage license and just get it acknowledged? We live here, we love here, we want a marriage certificate here in WA.

Originalcinner observed that maybe we just need to renew our vows here, which is cool, but what will get us our WA marriage certificate?
Posted by FranFW on November 8, 2012 at 1:23 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 7
Think of Washington State as a Gay Marriage magnet, not a Gay Divorce magnet.

Way better parties!
Posted by Will in Seattle on November 8, 2012 at 1:26 PM · Report this
What if you got married in Canada?
Posted by lillehammer on November 8, 2012 at 1:30 PM · Report this
What about Canada? Or Holland? I know other states are OK, but what about Dan Savage. Will he be married in a month?
Posted by AndyInChicago on November 8, 2012 at 1:34 PM · Report this
mkyorai 10
Can newly old people (meaning people over age 62) still get DP'd? Or is that option off the table after Dec 6, 2012?
Posted by mkyorai on November 8, 2012 at 1:52 PM · Report this
MacCrocodile 11
Can I just be the first to snicker about people talking about getting "DP'd" in Washington?

Posted by MacCrocodile on November 8, 2012 at 1:55 PM · Report this
Chef Thunder 12
Can you find out what happens if we got RDP here in Washington, then got gay married in California?

Do I need to dissolve my wa state RDP so my ca marriage can go into effect?
Posted by Chef Thunder on November 8, 2012 at 1:56 PM · Report this
Sargon Bighorn 13
This is marriage people. There was not a problem with understanding marriage on November 5th. Why is there all this confusion on November 8th? Good GOD man get a hold of yourself (bitch slaps idiot asking idiotic questions)! It's Marriage. If you are Married, you are Married. Yes Married.
Posted by Sargon Bighorn on November 8, 2012 at 2:01 PM · Report this
Okay...What if you were married in Oregon (multnomah county) in 2004 and then the decision to allow same-sex marriages in that State was overturned? You state: "If you got married in another state before, then there is no need to get married again in Washington," Pedersen says. "Your marriage will be respected and given legal effect as a marriage by the state of Washington effective December 6." - I'm guessing this won't be true for Oregon marriages?
Posted by DWoodward on November 8, 2012 at 2:14 PM · Report this
Okay...What if you were married in Oregon (Multnomah County) in 2004 and a year later the decision to allow same-sex marriages was overturned in that State? You state: "If you got married in another state before, then there is no need to get married again in Washington," Pedersen says. "Your marriage will be respected and given legal effect as a marriage by the state of Washington effective December 6." - I'm guessing this may not be true for marriages that were granted and then revoked in Oregon??
Posted by DWoodward on November 8, 2012 at 2:18 PM · Report this
BarryXXIV 16
Sargon is correct about legal out-of-state / out-of-country marriages. DWoodward, unfortunately, your marriage was never legal in Oregon, so it's not legal here. For those with legal marriage licenses from CA, MA, NY, Canada (like mine) or anywhere else they were legally issued, you can register your legal certificate with King County Records (as a safeguard against loss):…
Posted by BarryXXIV on November 8, 2012 at 2:21 PM · Report this
BarryXXIV 17
Sorry - here's the full link:…
Posted by BarryXXIV on November 8, 2012 at 2:26 PM · Report this
Jaymz 18
The point is, if you are married somewhere you are still married and it is recognized in Washington.

@8 - I officiate at weddings and the "certificate" I give the couple is fancy and for show only. They need to get a certified copy of the actual wedding certificate from the county where the license was issued and where I send back the paperwork. So, you don't need a Washington certificate to prove you are married here in Washington, what you need is a certified copy of the paperwork from whatever state you were married in.

@14/15 - If you can't get some kind of certificate from where you were "married/screwed later" then you aren't married, so break out the wedding gear!

(P.S. - Yes, I'm a lawyer and a ULC minister and have done weddings for decades now.)
Posted by Jaymz on November 8, 2012 at 2:31 PM · Report this
There are some points missing from this FAQ.

1. The election will be CERTIFIED by the Secretary of State on December 6, 30 days after the election itself.

2. Licenses cannot be obtained until the day after the election has been certified, so we have to wait until December 7.

3. Washington law has a 3 day waiting period before a marriage license can be used, which includes the day that the license is obtained. The earliest time that a same-sex marriage can occur in Washington will be after midnight, December 10.
Posted by TechBear on November 8, 2012 at 2:39 PM · Report this
So, when Obama comes to dissolve my straight wedding and force my wife and I to marry same sex partners from other forced dissolution marriages, leaving me with one of the two cats, what do I do if my new partner is allergic to cats or is a Republican?
Posted by cracked on November 8, 2012 at 3:09 PM · Report this
Pick1 21
@20 That's pretty crazy, i don't know what would... o wait, here it is:

In your case please see article 24B Subparagraph F in which case you can issue a formal complaint and the partner will be given a strict questionnaire about his Republican tendencies and/or anti-cat behavior. If his answers fail to meet the GAP's (Gay Agenda Party) formal requirements he will be summarily executed via the Obamacare death panels and a new partner will be distributed.

Wow, this bill really did address everything.
Posted by Pick1 on November 8, 2012 at 3:37 PM · Report this
Geni 22
I so want to go stand outside City Hall with bottles of bubbles to blow, and streamers to toss, and congratulate everyone who gets their marriage license on the first day. Flashmob, anyone?
Posted by Geni on November 8, 2012 at 3:47 PM · Report this
Sargon Bighorn 23
#20 now THAT IS a vital question. To begin with it must be said that your religious freedom will be taken away first. A box will be brought, into which you will be forced to put your religious freedom. After that, your opposite sex marriage will be horribly destroyed, and any children you have will be taught right then and there about "Gay Marriage". They will receive a coloring book and box of one crayon, color flaming pink. Next the Same Sex Marriage, not to be confused with the Gay Marriage (which are far more elaborate than the Same Sex Marriages) will be held. The Religious Leader of course will be forced to perform the wedding, under threat of death or something. As for the cat and the new Husband, well now that will be put to a vote of the people as is only right.
Posted by Sargon Bighorn on November 8, 2012 at 3:55 PM · Report this
Be aware that there could be tax implications if you decide to get married, as opposed to waiting 'til next year and letting your DP convert to marriage by default. It depends on how the state treats the date of your marriage. If you get married, well then that's the date when you're considered married for tax purposes. But if you wait and your DP converts, then you may be considered married for a longer period for tax purposes.

Why does this matter? Because SCOTUS will probably agree to hear at least one of several challenges to DOMA this term. If they strike down DOMA as unconstitutional, then same-sex married couples (and potentially everything-but-the-name civil union and DP'd couples) can file an amended federal returns for past years when DOMA was in effect. Depending on your situation, you could be in line to get some substantial back taxes. In our case, we paid an extra $7000 in taxes in 2009 due to DOMA because my husband was unemployed that year because of the recession.

Therefore, the duration of time when you have been legally married could matter. Talk to an accountant who's familiar with LGBT tax issues.
Posted by BZ on November 9, 2012 at 6:41 AM · Report this
Jaymz 25
BZ@24 - If you have helpful, insightful comments to add, it would be great for you to register since many of us turn off the "unregistered" comments. I happened to check them this time and found yours - good thoughts all around.
Posted by Jaymz on November 9, 2012 at 12:23 PM · Report this

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