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Washington state to convert thousands of domestic partnerships to marriage

The Secretary of State Corporations and Charities Division is reminding state-registered domestic partners that the new same-sex marriage law will automatically convert roughly 6,500 state-registered domestic partnerships into marriage on June 30.

The division is sending a letter this week to nearly 7,500 active domestic partnership couples, including a copy and summary of the Marriage Equality Act of 2012, a letter from the Department of Health, a request for information with return envelope, and a sample of a certificate of marriage.

The letter is being sent to same-sex domestic partnership couples, as well as those couples in which one partner is at least 62 years of age.

“There are many same-sex couples registered with us who either aren’t aware that their domestic partnership will automatically switch to marriage, or they know about it but haven’t given it much thought,” said Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman.

“We don’t want any couples to be caught off-guard when their partnership is changed into marriage,” she said.

The actual conversion will be done by the Department of Health creating certificates of marriage for all same-sex state-registered domestic partners who have not married or terminated their partnership. The department is using data and information from the Office of Secretary of State to identify these partnerships. A copy of a marriage certificate can be ordered from the Department of Health.

The conversion was included in Referendum 74, approved by voters in November 2012.

Corporations and Charities Division Director Pam Floyd, whose division includes the state’s domestic partnership program, said she and her staff are working with the Department of Health to make the conversions as smooth as possible.

Officials said not all state-registered domestic partnerships will be converted.

Those partnerships with at least one partner 62 years of age or older, regardless of gender, will not be converted. They may choose to be married if they wish, but the state will not convert them.

If a couple has a city- or county-registered domestic partnership, the couple will not be converted to marriage, officials added.

Only state-registered domestic partnerships will be converted under state law, Floyd said.

“If you have a state-registered domestic partnership and do not wish to be converted to marriage, you must file a termination request with your clerk of court before June 30 to avoid being converted to marriage,” Floyd said. “If you have any other change in your domestic partnership, such as an address change, marriage in or out of state, or other termination, you may notify our office by mail, e-mail or phone, and our staff will help you update your information.”

On and after June 30, the Corporations and Charities Division will continue to file domestic partnership applications as long as one of the partners (regardless of gender) is 62 or older.

The division has handled domestic partnership registrations since Washington’s domestic partnership law was enacted in 2007.

For more information about the domestic partnership program, see the Frequently Asked Questions section on the program’s webpage at http://www.sos.wa.gov/corps/domesticpartnerships/, call 360-725-0377 or e-mail the division at corps@sos.wa.gov.

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