Washington Secretary of State Sam Reed and Governor Chris Gregoire have made it official, certifying that voters adopted the “everything but marriage” domestic partnership law approved by the Legislature last spring.
Referendum 71, placed on the ballot by foes of same-sex marriage, was approved by a margin of more than 110,000 votes, or more than 6 percentage points.
National media describe it as the country’s first voter-approved domestic partnership or “everything-but-marriage” law.
The new law had been on hold pending the public vote, and will now go into effect at 12:01 a.m. Thursday, 30 days after the Nov. 3 General Election.
The law applies to state-registered domestic partners, both same-sex couples and opposite-sex couples where at least one partner is 62 or older.
The “everything but marriage” law grants gay couples more than 200 additional rights currently reserved for married spouses, including ensuring extended work leave for people with critically ill partners and preserving pension benefits for the surviving partner in the event of the other’s death.
According to the canvass of returns certified by Secretary Reed and later proclaimed by Governor Gregoire, R-71 had 951,822 votes to approve the law and 838,842 to repeal.