A new law in Washington State will give gay and lesbian couples most of the rights married couples have.
The measure signed on April 21, 2006, by the state's governor creates a domestic partnership registry and provides enhanced rights for same-sex couples. Those rights include hospital visitation rights, the ability to authorize autopsies and organ donations, and inheritance rights when there's no will. To be registered couples have to share a home, be at least 18 and be in a monogamous relationship.
The Governor said the law will mean equal rights for all of Washington State's citizens, but opponents say it will dilute traditional marriage.
The law takes effect in July.