Last week the Washington state House passed by a wide margin a bill that would require the state to recognize out-of-state same-sex marriages as domestic partnerships in Washington state. The state already recognizes out-of-state domestic partnerships and civil unions as domestic partnerships. The bill, HB 1649, is now under consideration by the Senate.
The very scenario that the bill seeks to prevent happened recently to a married couple from Iowa. Shortly after William Schulte and his husband Rob moved from Iowa to Colorado, Rob passed away. In Colorado their marriage received no legal recognition and their 10 years together meant nothing to authorities when William most needed his family to be legally recognized. Onto the grief of loss was added the grief of denial of his family.
You can listen to William tell his story here. A partial transcript is below. A video of William’s testimony before the Iowa Legislature is below the fold.
His Mom and Dad were very supportive and helped me, but I had to go through his Mom. Simple fact that I couldn’t even get my own husband’s coroner report back was just horrible. I was able to talk to the coroner the morning of, but I couldn’t get a coroner’s report because I wasn’t married in Colorado.
And then it took 2 weeks to get his body back into Iowa. He was cremated and for a week and a half we didn’t know where he was. He was lost in the mail without a tracking number and I couldn’t do anything about it. I couldn’t deal with the mortuary, his parents had to.
Throughout all this horrible tragedy I kept feeling like I was hounding his mom too much about it. And she told me she’d always call me and let me know exactly what’s going on, I’d be the first one to be called. And she did. But she didn’t need that at the time even though I know I wasn’t hounding her. But that’s just one more emotion to go through throughout all this grieving.
It was just really obnoxious, because if he would have passed away in Iowa I would have had total control. But that wasn’t the case. It was the worst experience of my life, and having to go through his mom for everything just made it worse. Not that she wasn’t horribly supportive and she loves me and we’re family, but it’s stuff I should have been doing for myself.
I was very lucky in having both sides of my family and all my friends there, but for some people they aren’t, and they don’t even have the government to back them.
Washington state Senators must join their colleagues in the House in passing HB 1649. Washington voters were very clear when they approved the domestic partnership law in 2009 via Referendum 71 that they expect all families in Washington, including gay and lesbian families, to be respected. Nobody wants what happened to William Schulte in Colorado to happen in Washington state.
* Visiting Washington state while married: a tragedy waiting to happenWilliam Schulte tells his story during the public hearing on House Joint Resolution 6, which proposes an Iowa state constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman.