Change in marriage law raises need for gender-neutral certificates

November 27, 2012

By Staff

NEW — 6 a.m. Nov. 27, 2012

The change in state law to legalize same-sex marriage means marriage and divorce certificates must change, and the state Department of Health is seeking public input on the issue.

The agency requested comments on proposed changes in gender-specific terms for Washington’s marriage and divorce certificates in response to the same-sex marriage law approved in Referendum 74. The law is poised to go into effect Dec. 6.

The department collects records of all people who marry or divorce in Washington, and issues copies of records to the public. The existing forms use gender-specific terms, including bride, groom, husband and wife.

State health officials propose using gender-neutral terms on certificates. The proposal includes identifying the gender of couples on the certificate form, so the public can gather information about the number of same-sex couples in Washington.

Officials posted the proposed changes to the rule defining the content of Washington marriage and divorce certificates on the Department of Health website.

The agency is accepting written comments on the proposal until 5 p.m. Wednesday. Submit comments online or mail them to Washington State Department of Health, P.O. Box 47814, Olympia, WA 98504-7814.

Officials also plan to hold a public hearing at 8 a.m. Wednesday at 310 Israel Road S.E., Rooms 152-153, Tumwater.

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