The Agenda

Gay Washington state legislators celebrate two victories

Out state legislators in Washington are celebrating the State Senate’s passage of two LGBT rights bills — one of which expands the rights granted to same-sex couples under the state’s existing domestic partnership law, while the other expands the state’s hate crimes statue to include transgender people. Both bills were introduced by openly gay legislators — Sens. Ed Murray and Joe McDermott, respectively.

According to the Associated Press, the first bill builds upon previous domestic partnership laws by adding reference to partnerships alongside all remaining areas of state law where currently only married couples are mentioned, statutes ranging from labor and employment to pensions and other public employee benefits.

The AP reports:

The underlying domestic partnership law, which Murray spearheaded two years ago, provided hospital visitation rights, the ability to authorize autopsies and organ donations, and inheritance rights when there is no will.

Last year, lawmakers expanded that law to give domestic partners standing under laws covering probate and trusts, community property and guardianship.

As of Tuesday, 5,112 domestic partnership registrations had been filed since the law took effect in July 2007.

In addition, out Sen. Joe McDermott passed a bill that adds transgender people to the state’s Malicious Harassment Statute. The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 36-12 with broad bipartisan support.

“When ‘sexual orientation’ was added to our Hate Crimes law years ago, transgendered was not included in the definition,” McDermott wrote on his blog. “Three years ago when we passed the Anti-Discrimination Statute we included transgendered in that definition of sexual orientation. I am exceptionally proud of this progress for transgendered persons tonight.”

Both bills now move to the Washington state House of Representatives.