PREPROPOSAL STATEMENT OF INQUIRY
Subject of Possible Rule Making: WAC 246-491-149, consider amending the rule to gender-neutralize terms for spouses on the marriage and divorce certificates, and to consider clarifying names and adding gender as an item on the marriage certificate.
Statutes Authorizing the Agency to Adopt Rules on this Subject: RCW 43.70.150 Registration of vital statistics.
Reasons Why Rules on this Subject may be Needed and What They Might Accomplish: In February 2012, chapter 3, Laws of 2012 (ESSB 6239) was signed into law allowing same-sex couples to marry in Washington. The department of health collects records of all marriages and divorces that occur in Washington and issues copies of certificates. Current marriage and divorce certificates use gender-specific terms. After the law goes into effect, same-sex couples who marry may expect these records to use gender-neutral language. The department also anticipates public interest in knowing how many same-sex marriages occur. The department will consider revising the rule when the law goes into effect. (A referendum has been filed to refer the law to voters; signatures have not yet been submitted.)
Other Federal and State Agencies that Regulate this Subject and the Process Coordinating the Rule with These Agencies: No other federal or state agency regulates the collection of marriage and divorce records in Washington state.
Process for Developing New Rule: Collaborative rule making.
Interested parties can participate in the decision to adopt the new rule and formulation of the proposed rule before publication. Individuals who would like to join the department's interested parties list for marriage certificate rules may contact Rachel McKinlay, Washington State Department of Health, P.O. Box 47814, Olympia, WA 98501-7814, phone (360) 236-4308, fax (360) 753-4135, e-mail email@example.com.
May 21, 2012
Mary C. Selecky