This November, Washington State voters agreed that same-sex couples should be able to legally marry and have equal rights under the law as a unit. The law to legalize gay and lesbian marriage went into effect on Thursday, December 6, 2012, with many gay couples lining up outside of Washington courthouses at midnight in order to obtain marriage certificates.
Along with the gaining the right to marry, gay couples in Washington also gained the right to divorce.
As part of the change to allow same-sex marriages, Washington will change both their marriage certificates and their divorce certificates to reflect the gender-neutral nature of the paperwork. Now, on both marriage documents and divorce documents, the terms “bride” and “groom” and “husband” and “wife” will be changed to “Spouse A” and “Spouse B.” Some counties will have the new forms on December 6, though others say it will take a few extra weeks or months to make the change.
The Washington Department of Health has spent several weeks discussing how and when these changes will take place, both within the organization and by asking the public for their opinion. They decided on the terms for the paperwork as well as on asking couples to list their sex so that the state can keep data regarding same-sex marriage and divorce in the case.
The state estimates that it will issue about 2,000 marriage licenses on December 6, though the marriages won’t officially take place for three days due to the 72-hour waiting period. Main and Maryland also passed popular votes this November that will legally allow same-sex couples to wed.