Some Same-Sex Couples Opting Out of Automatic Marriage in Washington State


On February 1st, 2012 SB 6239, a bill legalizing same-sex marriage, passed the Washington State Senate with a vote of 28-21. In addition to officially recognizing LGBT marriages, SB 6239 also carried a provision that would automatically convert all domestic partnerships not dissolved within two years into marriages provided that one of the partners be under the age of 62.

7,500 couples across the state suddenly found themselves married yesterday after receiving letters from the state explaining the technicalities of the situation. The thing is though, not everyone wanted to get married.

"We do eventually want to get married and it's good to be in a state where we can get married,” Thomas Harlow told CBS affiliate KIRO TV. “[B]ut we weren't quite there yet and there weren't any other options.”

While marriage carries a slew of social and financial protections and benefits, it is not without its potential drawbacks for some couples. Married couples become responsible for shared debt one partner brings to the table, and it is not uncommon for newly married couples to get hit with the marriage penalty come tax time.

Some 1,200 couples managed to terminate their domestic partnerships before the June 30th cutoff point, according to Washington state records. The remaining newlywed couples have the option of staying married or initiating a 90-day divorcing process.