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November 30, 2012

Couples Can Check “Bride”, “Groom” or “Spouse” on Washington State’s New Certificate of Marriage

Posted in: marriage equality

In advance of same-sex weddings beginning in Washington state on December 9th, the state’s Department of Health has revised the marriage certificate to allow spouses to choose the terms that best apply to them. From the DOH:

Marriage certificate changes give options for traditional, same-sex couples

New approved form retains “bride” and “groom” and adds gender-neutral option

OLYMPIA – Revisions to Washington’s marriage certificate to conform with the new same-sex marriage law gives couples a full range of options — gender-neutral or gender-specific terms. The new form has been sent to local auditors around the state. The form is effective December 6 when the law takes effect. Marriage certificates are filed after the marriage.

Secretary of Health Mary Selecky approved the rules-change to add “spouse” to the existing language that includes “bride” and “groom.” Couples can check a box to choose the term they prefer. The original proposed change was to replace “bride” and “groom” with “spouse,” but many public comments suggested providing optional language, and Selecky agreed. More than 100 public comments were taken in writing and at a hearing in Tumwater November 28.

The state health department collects records of all people who marry or divorce in Washington, and provide copies of records to the public upon request. Current forms use gender-specific terms, including bride and groom. The new form also adds space for gender, and adds the term “parent” to the words “mother” and “father” of the applicants.

The updated version of the marriage certificate can be viewed here, courtesy of The News Tribune, and the top portion of the form is pictured at the bottom of this post.

The retention of the optional terms “bride” and “groom” on the marriage certificate should put to rest concerns raised by marriage equality opponents that making the state’s marriage law gender-blind would somehow prevent spouses from using gender-specific terms for one another.

To follow events in Washington related to the start of marriage equality, follow the Twitter hashtag #MEDayWA.

New version of Washington state's certificate of marriage.

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