[JURIST] Washington state's domestic partnership law [PDF text] entered into effect Monday, allowing same-sex couples over the age of 18 residing together to register with the state's domestic partnership registry. Registered same-sex couples will be afforded hospital visitation rights, inheritance rights, and the right to authorize medical decisions for one's partner. The registry will also allow heterosexual couples to register as domestic partners if one partner is over the age of 62, as a way to give legal recognition to couples deterred from marrying by possible repercussions on pensions and social security benefits.
Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire signed [press release; JURIST report] the legislation in April. Last June, Washington rewrote its Civil Rights Act [JURIST report] to include sexual orientation amongst the classes of characteristics protected from housing, lending, and employment discrimination. AP has more.