The United States has come a long way in lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights. However, certain states, like Washington state, have provided LGBT individuals with a number of rights for a longer period of time.

Laws Against Homosexuality

For a long time, there were laws in most states against sodomy. However, Washington State repealed its sodomy laws in 1976. Sodomy laws were laws that prohibit sexual actions between persons of the same sex, or laws that prohibited certain sexual positions regardless of the sex of the persons involved.

Recognition of Same-Sex Marriages

There was a long battle to the road to same-sex marriage in Washington state. 

In 2001 the State made it law that state employees in a same-sex relationship would be provided with benefits for their partner. Then in 2007 the State allowed same-sex domestic partnerships while also recognizing same-sex unions from other states. Finally, in 2011 the State of Washington legalized same-sex marriage and provided couples in same-sex marriages all of the benefit and rights of couples in heterosexual marriages. 

While Washington was on the forefront of same-sex marriage the rest of the nation was caught up in 2015 with the Supreme Court case Obergefell v Hodges. In that case the Supreme Court decide that it would be a violation of both the due process clause and the equal protection clause to deny same-sex couples the fundamental right to marriage. 

So, while Washington State had its own laws in place for same-sex marriage in 2011 the state is now bound by the Supreme Court decision of 2015 which also recognizes same-sex marriage. 


There is no discrimination when it comes to adoption within Washington state. Same-sex couples are allowed to apply for an adoption as a married couple. They can also adopt each other’s children as well, meaning stepparent adoptions by same-sex couples are allowed. The State also allows infertility treatments, such as IVF, to be covered by insurance for lesbian couples. 

Discrimination Laws for LGBT Individuals

Starting in 1991 the state made it illegal to discriminate against LGBT individuals in public employment. Then in 2006 the passage of Washington House Bill 2661 added further protections. The bill made it illegal to discriminate against anyone who is LGBT when it came to housing, employment or insurance. LGBT Hate Crimes in Washington

It is against the law in Washington to commit violence against a person specifically because they are a LGBT individual. The law also prohibits excessive malicious harassment based on the victim’s race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, gender, mental/physical/sensory disability, and sexual orientation.

This includes causing any physical injury to the person, damage to their property, or threatens them due to the victim’s sexual orientation (as well as the other listed above). 

Gender Identity and Expression Laws

Anyone who identifies as a gender that they were not born with can apply to have their birth certificate and driver’s licensed reflect their accurate gender identity. Furthermore, the state allows individuals to use the restroom that best fits their gender expression. 

In 2017, Initiative 1552 was brought up to push back against Washington’s Human Rights Commission that allows anyone (regardless of gender) access to locker rooms, showers, spas, and restrooms based on their gender expression/identity. Instead, initiative 1552 will require schools to maintain separate facilities for boys and girls. 

Do I Need a Lawyer?

If you feel your rights have been violated or you are concerned about a potential situation arising, speaking with an experienced Washington family lawyer. A lawyer can help protect your rights and advocate on your behalf.