Same-Sex Marriage Overview
As of May 2014, same-sex marriage is legal in both Oregon and Washington. With the passage of Referendum 74 in Washington and Oregon’s state constitutional ban on same-sex marriage overturned, these states recognize no legal differences between a same-sex marriage and an opposite-sex marriage. Same-sex marriage licenses issued in either one of these states are also recognized by the federal government, in accordance with the 2013 rulings by the Supreme Court.
Unfortunately for same-sex married couples yearning for legal certainty outside the borders of Oregon and Washington, the picture is not so clear – many states still do not recognize same-sex marriages, even those that are otherwise valid in the state where the marriage license was granted. Until the federal courts (likely the U.S. Supreme Court) decide the issue, there will likely be much legal grey area for same-sex married couples from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. For information about a specific state’s laws, consult with your attorney.
Same-Sex Marriage & Domestic Partnerships in Oregon
At this point, Oregon now has two separate legal statuses for same-sex couples: registered domestic partnerships and marriage. Registered domestic partnerships were enacted by the Oregon legislature in response to the popular voting-in of the constitutional ban on same-sex marriages in Oregon. Registered domestic partnerships, per Oregon statute, grant all legal rights and responsibilities of marriage to same-sex registered domestic partners.
The problems with registered domestic partnerships arise when couples visit states or other jurisdictions that do not recognize domestic partnership as a valid legal status. Hopefully, the issues surrounding the non-recognition of domestic partnerships have been cured by the recent ruling abolishing the ban on same-sex marriage in Oregon.
Same-Sex Marriage & Domestic Partnerships in Washington
In 2012, voters approved Referendum 74, which affected SB 6239, which itself preserves domestic partnerships only for seniors. All existing state-registered domestic partnerships were automatically converted to marriages beginning July 30, 2014, unless at least one party is over 62 years old or unless at least one party opts out of the automatic conversion.
Other LGBTQ Family Law Issues
As Oregon and Washington do not recognize legal differences between same-sex and opposite-sex marriages, there are also no legal differences in other family law issues. A same-sex couple facing divorce or child custody questions will be beholden to the same laws as a heterosexual couple. Review our other family law pages or consult with an attorney if you have further questions.