Concern Rises Over WA Domestic Partnerships

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Gay and lesbian couples in Washington State packed the capitol building Monday to see their governor sign what some call the "everything but marriage" law.

Groups working to preserve traditional marriage in the state say they are prepared for a new legal fight.

Surrounded by the children of gay and lesbian couples, Washington's Gov. Christine Gregoire signed a bill expanding the rights of same-sex couples.

It gives the state's registered "domestic partners" the right to insurance, death  benefits, sick leave, adoption, child support and more.

"We complete the rights and responsibilities for domestic partners so they mirror those granted to heterosexual couples and the civil marriage laws of our state," said domestic partner Scott Partlow.

Seeing Gov. Gregoire's signature moved some to tears.

"(I'm) pretty happy because it means that Zander's family will have the same rights and benefits as many other families in this state," Partlow added.

Carol Hannum was also excited about her new rights as a domestic partner. 

"In the 50s, you know, you could get kicked out of school  for being gay and so we've been struggling for a long time," she said.

There is  a Defense of Marriage Act in the state defining marriage as between one man and one woman, and some say the bill signed Tuesday allows same-sex marriage without the title.

"We have taken a position against it from the very beginning," Randall said.  "The reason on this bill particularly is because it elevates domestic partnerships to the same legal level as marriage."

A recent poll by the Faith and Freedom Network showed 43 percent of voters support gay marriage while 50 percent do not and 7 percent are not sure.

The group is prepared to fight the governor's move.

Members have filed a referendum and are prepared to collect more than 120,000 signatures to get the issue on the November ballot.

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