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Gender Neutral Marriage Certificates Proposed by State

Spaces on a marriage certificate once reserved for a "bride" and "groom" will become more gender-neutral, state Department of Health spokesperson Tim Church told MyNorthwest.com.

The state of Washington has proposed leaving the words bride and groom at the altar when it comes to marriage certificates.

With same-sex marriage becoming legal on Dec. 6, spaces on the marriage certificate once reserved for a "bride" and "groom" will become more gender-neutral for everyone, state Department of Health spokesperson Tim Church told MyNorthwest.com.

"Obviously those words aren't going to fit everybody," he said. "We are proposing a change where it will say something like 'Spouse A' and 'Spouse B.'"

The proposed rule also adds sex of the people marrying as an item on the certificate, allowing the state to track how may same-sex marriages occur. The proposal also removes the words husband and wife on divorce certificates. 

In the Nov. 6 elections, Washington voters approved Referendum 74, which affirmed the legislatively backed law allowing for same sex marriage in this state.

Work began on the revised certificates before the election so they can be ready for use when the law goes into effect on Dec. 6, 2012.

The Department of Health, which collects records of all marriages and divorces that occur in Washington, is taking comment on the proposed revisions until Dec. 3.

To comment:

What do you think? Should Washington marriage certificates be revised to have gender-neutral wording? Do the words bride and groom hold special meaning on your marriage certificate? Tell us in comments. 

Joe M November 28, 2012 at 05:11 PM
Thank you, Lisa Baumann and all the others who are fighting this effort by the government to redefine our language. They use "simplification" and "saving money" as an excuse, but they are really trying to change the way we talk, and ultimately the way we think. We've already lost so many of these battles. We need to take a stand here. Let me tell you my story. I was applying for a passport but I got pretty angry at the male/female checkboxes, and the blank for city. There was no checkbox for "Man" and no blank for "Town". I argued for 15 minutes with the passport clerk. Since jails don't honor my food choices, I allowed the police officer to quietly take me outside. Ultimately I filled out that form, and under threat of perjury, I can no longer call myself a man. Thankfully, I can still refer to the woman I married as my wife. Don't let them take that away from me. Let's eliminate all labels from government forms and let people use the labels they've come to cherish. Our freedom depends on it.
Cheryl Strong Magnuson November 29, 2012 at 12:24 AM
It makes sense to change the wording on the marriage certificate to spouse. As for the ceremony, choose your own vows. I've been married for 44 years and certainly don't have to consult my marriage certificate to know whether I am a spouse or wife. In fact, I know I am both.
Kevin O'Reilly December 01, 2012 at 02:56 AM
Is it still legal to refer to the Father of the Bride? Or must we say the Father of Spose A?
zzipper December 01, 2012 at 03:07 AM
Thank you Cheryl for again pointing out that the ceremony/public wording can be whatever the couple chooses. Reading comments makes me think that others are not aware of the fact that we are only dealing with the license that is filed with the government. All the license data will be input in a system that has to have a consistent definition for each entry. Freedom of speech allows us to use the language we want not only in the ceremony but whenever in public.
Bob McCoy December 01, 2012 at 08:33 AM
There's an old joke where one partner says to the other, "With you, marriage is just a word." The other replies, "No, I think of it as a sentence." I understand the latter's point of view as I read the continuation of the tendentious arguments about the sanctity of a word, and the inability of the hanger-ons to comprehend the difference between civil law and religious celebrations of ritual. Instead of defending holy matrimony on the basis of whatever Bible verse is your motivator, you might think about following a direct admonition to take dominion and exercise stewardship of an Earth that is rapidly loosing species that your God saw fit to create, and "saw that it was good," and that were saved by God's directive to Noah. Or doesn't that count? Jesus' statement about rendering to Caesar the things that are Caesar's means to fill out the legal forms according to the govt, and render your spiritual devotion to your god. That means get the license for Spouse A & B, and let the church do the holy matrimony celebration. Quit arguing this nonsensical BS and do something for the betterment of creation that God approved. The Muslim community is reaching out as part of an inter-faith effort. http://sammamish.patch.com/events/what-on-earth-are-we-to-do What are you going to do? .

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