Earlier today the senate approved Rep. Laurie Jinkins' (D-27, Tacoma) domestic partners bill.  The bill, which passed 28-19, recognize same sex marriages from other states as domestic partnerships here in Washington. While that may sound like a downgrade for gay couples, it's actually step forward. Under current law, same sex marriages formed in other states are void here in Washington, only legal unions are recognized. The new legislation would change that by recognizing gay marriages as domestic partnership—rather than ignoring them all together.

Opponents of Jinkins' legislation haven't been too vocal during public hearings. Her legislation passed the house 58-39 earlier this month. Jinkins tells PubliCola today that she is "really pleased" with the bill's senate passage. "I think that the margins are starting to open up shows that the public and the legislators are on the same track," Jinkins says, adding that "more and more of the public is on the same side of same sex couples, and so are the legislators."

On the senate floor today, Sen. Craig Pridemore (D-49, Vancouver) described the legislation as necessary to help same sex couples "so they don't have to start from scratch" when they move to Washington.

Sen. Don Benton (R-17, Vancouver) was the only senator to rise in opposition to Jinkins' bill on the senate floor. ''I want to caution the body, when you pass a bill that requires reciprocity with other states, you have to be very careful about what the laws in other states say," Benton said. He argued that the bill was not taking into account the "potential of unintended consequences, in terms of what other states and countries may pass and leaves us open in the future, in terms of being subjected to whatever any other state legislature may pass."

Pridemore disputed Benton's comments, arguing that it was necessary for Washington to clarify these definitions.
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