Automatic same-sex marriages kick in this month in Washington

SEATTLE, Wash. -- By the end of the month, many same-sex couples in Washington will tie the knot, whether they want to or not.

Some state registered domestic partnerships will be converted into marriages on June 30. The automatic trigger was part of the 2012 state law legalizing same-sex marriages.

Michelle Johnson and her partner, Lara, will be legally married at the end of the month.

"I think when people get married, the paperwork is part of it, but I think it's what you do together that is the significant piece," said Johnson.

The couple plans on celebrating with close friends on June 30. A formal ceremony is scheduled for later this summer.

"It honestly gives us an excuse to celebrate more. We have more days to celebrate. We can celebrate on the 30th, we can celebrate on our date we signed our domestic partnership, and we can celebrate the day we met so lots of partying," said Johnson.

The advocacy group Legal Voice, where Johnson works, expects nearly 3,000 domestic partnerships to convert into marriages. Legal Voice attorney David Ward said couples were notified by the state. If they want to opt-out of marriage, Ward said a couple must legally end their partnership.

"The process of dissolving a state-registered domestic partnership is the same as dissolving a marriage. You go to court, you file an action there and you have to complete it," said Ward.

If one person in a domestic partnership is over the age of 62, the partnership will not be converted into a marriage.


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