Not all domestic partners are ready for gay marriage

Feb 3, 2012

Wednesday night the Washington State Senate voted in support of same-sex marriages by a 28 to 21 vote. Gay and lesbian citizens around the state support the idea, but for some, wedding bells don’t sound so appealing.

Cheers interrupted the Senate floor hearing for a solid minute after votes tallied in support of gay marriage. Senator Ed Murray notified his peers they would all receive invitations to the wedding of he and his domestic partner. Murray says domestic partners have a few options if gay marriage becomes legal.

“You can choose to do nothing and your domestic partnership in a couple of years will automatically convert into a legal marriage. You can choose simply to end your domestic partnership, or you could choose, like we plan to, to get a marriage certificate and have a marriage ceremony.”

These are the options for more than 9,000 couples in Washington. News to a couple in Spokane.

No marriage, thanks

“I wanted equality; I wanted federal recognition of domestic partnerships. But the actual marriage thing, I just could care less about.”

Heidi Piccirello and her partner Kimberly Tucker have been together for nine years. Heidi says she couldn’t get health insurance unless they were registered as domestic partners, so in 2011, they did it. And celebrated…

“Yep, we had a beer, yep, pretty much.”

Heidi says she’s not interested in a true marriage because of how closely linked it is to a heterosexual relationship, and because of how many marriages end in divorce. But the new state legislation wouldn’t give them an option.

“What freaks me out is thinking, I’ve gotta get married in two years. And what’s that really mean, because we’re pretty committed to each other now. It’s like well, at least we’ll get gifts to Home Depot and stuff.”

Two year countdown

She says maybe they’ll re-model their bathroom. Jokes aside, she says this is a big step forward for the gay rights movement, but she wishes the movement didn’t focus on matching the heterosexual norms.

“I would rather have the ability to have insurance, be in a civil union, not be cornered out because I’m different or gay.”

But Senator Murray says the changes would be important for all gay or lesbian couples.

“I hear from constituents again and again that they apply for a loan from the bank and the bank just doesn’t understand what a domestic partnership, the hospital doesn’t understand what a domestic partnership is. People understand what marriage is.”

Heidi says she and her partner will have a ceremony if the law goes into effect. For thousands more couples, they would have two years to make their marriage plans.

Copyright 2011 Spokane Public Radio