State scrambles to make marriage forms accommodate same-sex couples

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TACOMA, Wash. —

With a week until same-sex couples can register to be married in Washington, state workers are scrambling to get the right paperwork approved so there is no confusion when gay couples file to marry.

 

Next Thursday, gay couples can go to their county auditor's office and fill out the forms for marriage, but the forms will likely be different from those that are currently available.

 

The Department of Health is taking public comment Wednesday to make the current forms more gender neutral.

 

Jill Mullins drove from Seattle to Olympia Wednesday morning so she could say what she thinks about the proposed change to marriage and divorce certification forms.

 

The current forms ask for the bride’s name and signature and the groom’s legal information.

 

But with the legalization of gay marriage, the Department of Health is proposing to make the forms more generic, using instead “spouse A and spouse B.”

 

“I like it much better than having bride and groom and having that gender denomination,” said Mullins.

 

But Mullins said the form is not perfect for her.

 

"People across the board don't like taking away the terms husband and wife,” she said.

 

Mullins said gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender citizens worked hard to get access to the terms “husband and wife.”

 

"To sort of eliminate those because same-sex couples now have access, takes away our access to the words, and I think a lot of people feel connected to the terms 'husband and wife,'” said Mullins.

 

Mullins said she’d prefer three options for each person to choose from: Husband, wife and spouse.

 

At the public comment hearing, Mullins was one of only two people who expressed their opinion.

 

The Department of Health wants to change the form before next Thursday.  County auditors said they hope the changes are approved quickly, so they can have new forms ready next week.

 

"Regardless of what the paper says or what the forms look like, the reality is, on Dec. 6, for whatever couple comes in, whether it's same-sex or heterosexual, they will have a valid marriage process,” said Spokane County Auditor Vicky Dalton.

 

The state has so far received four or five dozen email comments on the issue.

 

Comments can be made until 5 p.m. on Wednesday on the Department of Health's website.