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Domestic partnerships to become marriages in Washington State

Gay couples will automatically become married unless they dissolve their domestic partnerships

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Thousands of gay couples in Washington State will find themselves married — some unexpectedly — this summer, the Seattle Times reports. On June 30, gay couples in domestic partnerships will be automatically married, unless they dissolve their partnerships.

Washington introduced domestic partnerships in 2007 as a legally identical substitute for marriage for same-sex couples. In 2012, when marriage was legalized, lawmakers decided that there should not be an extra option for gay couples and that domestic partnerships would be rolled into marriage this year. The only legal difference between the two will be that, now that the federal government recognizes same-sex marriages, married partners will have to file for taxes together.

Marriage has different social implications, however, and some gay couples may find themselves surprised by the new title. The situation is especially thorny for couples who have moved to states that do not recognize gay marriage; they may find themselves married but unable to annul their marriages in a state that does not recognize them. Gay couples who married in Washington and moved away to Idaho, for example, will have to travel back to Washington to get their marriages annulled.