Search
26.04.007  <<  26.04.010 >>   26.04.020

RCW 26.04.010

Marriage contract — Void marriages — Construction of gender specific terms — Recognition of solemnization of marriage not required.

(1) Marriage is a civil contract between two persons who have each attained the age of eighteen years, and who are otherwise capable.

     (2) Every marriage entered into in which either person has not attained the age of seventeen years is void except where this section has been waived by a superior court judge of the county in which one of the parties resides on a showing of necessity.

     (3) Where necessary to implement the rights and responsibilities of spouses under the law, gender specific terms such as husband and wife used in any statute, rule, or other law must be construed to be gender neutral and applicable to spouses of the same sex.

     (4) No regularly licensed or ordained minister or any priest, imam, rabbi, or similar official of any religious organization is required to solemnize or recognize any marriage. A regularly licensed or ordained minister or priest, imam, rabbi, or similar official of any religious organization shall be immune from any civil claim or cause of action based on a refusal to solemnize or recognize any marriage under this section. No state agency or local government may base a decision to penalize, withhold benefits from, or refuse to contract with any religious organization on the refusal of a person associated with such religious organization to solemnize or recognize a marriage under this section.

     (5) No religious organization is required to provide accommodations, facilities, advantages, privileges, services, or goods related to the solemnization or celebration of a marriage.

     (6) A religious organization shall be immune from any civil claim or cause of action, including a claim pursuant to chapter 49.60 RCW, based on its refusal to provide accommodations, facilities, advantages, privileges, services, or goods related to the solemnization or celebration of a marriage.

     (7) For purposes of this section:

     (a) "Recognize" means to provide religious-based services that:

     (i) Are delivered by a religious organization, or by an individual who is managed, supervised, or directed by a religious organization; and

     (ii) Are designed for married couples or couples engaged to marry and are directly related to solemnizing, celebrating, strengthening, or promoting a marriage, such as religious counseling programs, courses, retreats, and workshops; and

     (b) "Religious organization" includes, but is not limited to, churches, mosques, synagogues, temples, nondenominational ministries, interdenominational and ecumenical organizations, mission organizations, faith-based social agencies, and other entities whose principal purpose is the study, practice, or advancement of religion.

[2012 c 3 § 1 (Referendum Measure No. 74, approved November 6, 2012); 1998 c 1 § 3; 1973 1st ex.s. c 154 § 26; 1970 ex.s. c 17 § 2; 1963 c 230 § 1; Code 1881 § 2380; 1866 p 81 § 1; 1854 p 404 §§ 1, 5; RRS § 8437.]

Notes:

     Notice -- 2012 c 3: "(1) Within sixty days after June 7, 2012, the secretary of state shall send a letter to the mailing address on file of each same-sex domestic partner registered under chapter 26.60 RCW notifying the person that Washington's law on the rights and responsibilities of state registered domestic partners will change in relation to certain same-sex registered domestic partners.

     (2) The notice must provide a brief summary of the new law and must clearly state that provisions related to certain same-sex registered domestic partnerships will change as of *the effective dates of this act, and that those same-sex registered domestic partnerships that are not dissolved prior to June 30, 2014, will be converted to marriage as an act of law.

     (3) The secretary of state shall send a second similar notice to the mailing address on file of each domestic partner registered under chapter 26.60 RCW by May 1, 2014." [2012 c 3 § 17 (Referendum Measure No. 74, approved November 6, 2012).]

     *Reviser's note: "This act" refers to 2012 c 3. 2012 c 3 §§ 8 and 9 have an effective date of June 30, 2014. 2012 c 3 §§ 1-7 and 10-17 took effect June 7, 2012. Chapter 3, Laws of 2012 was subject to Referendum Measure No. 74 and took effect December 6, 2012.

     Finding -- 1998 c 1: "(1) In P.L. 104-199; 110 Stat. 219 [2419], the Defense of Marriage Act, Congress granted authority to the individual states to either grant or deny recognition of same-sex marriages recognized as valid in another state. The Defense of Marriage Act defines marriage for purposes of federal law as a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife and provides that a state shall not be required to give effect to any public act or judicial proceeding of any other state respecting marriage between persons of the same sex if the state has determined that it will not recognize same-sex marriages.

     (2) The legislature and the people of the state of Washington find that matters pertaining to marriage are matters reserved to the sovereign states and, therefore, such matters should be determined by the people within each individual state and not by the people or courts of a different state." [1998 c 1 § 1.]

     Intent -- 1998 c 1: "(1) It is a compelling interest of the state of Washington to reaffirm its historical commitment to the institution of marriage as a union between a man and a woman as husband and wife and to protect that institution.

     (2) The court in Singer v. Hara, 11 Wn. App. 247 (1974) held that the Washington state marriage statute does not allow marriage between persons of the same sex. It is the intent of the legislature by this act to codify the Singer opinion and to fully exercise the authority granted the individual states by Congress in P.L. 104-199; 110 Stat. 219 [2419], the Defense of Marriage Act, to establish public policy against same-sex marriage in statutory law that clearly and definitively declares same-sex marriages will not be recognized in Washington, even if they are made legal in other states." [1998 c 1 § 2.]

     Severability -- 1973 1st ex.s. c 154: See note following RCW 2.12.030.