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Marriage Certificate Options for Traditional, Same-sex Couples

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

OLYMPIA, Wash. – 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.

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