Thursday, February 5, 2009

Standing room only at Domestic Partnership hearing

Hundreds of people crowded into House Hearing Room A this morning to attend the Judiciary Committee’s public hearing on legislation that would broaden domestic-partnership rights. Even after opening a back wall and letting other people view the hearing on TV in another room, the scene remained standing-room only. More than 40 people registered to testify, with both supporters and opponents stating their positions for well over an hour. Despite occasionally heated rhetoric and swells of applause at times, the dialog remained civil and calm.

Built upon two years of successive legislation starting in 2007, HB 1727 would ensure that registered domestic partners receive equal treatment under state law as would a married couple. Bill sponsor Rep. Jamie Pedersen (Seattle), kicked off the testimony by outlining how it would help families, especially in the areas of public employee pension and survivorship benefits. He also noted how nearly 5, 000 domestic partners across all legislative districts have registered since 2007.

The debate continues later today in the Senate, where the Government Operations & Elections Committee will hear companion bill 5688, sponsored by Sen. Ed Murray (D-Seattle), at 3:30 p.m. in Senate Hearing Room 2. Read more about this year’s domestic partnership legislation in this press release from last week. Or see what editorial boards across the state are saying here, here, and here.