Same-sex couples in Washington state await decision about equal status

The American Civil Liberties Union and other organizations estimate that the number of children nationwide living with at least one gay parent ranges from 6 million to 14 million.

The Spokesman-Review profiles one lesbian couple – moms Kyla Bates [right] and Lori Rodriguez [left] and their 7-year-old daughter, Myah – to help educate the public about the struggles and frustration our families often face.

When Myah was hurt in a car accident five years ago (in which Rodriguez also was injured), hospital staff wouldn’t allow Bates to make decisions on her behalf. Because she couldn’t provide written proof that she, too, was Myah’s mom, they made her sit in the waiting room instead of allowing her to comfort her daughter.

“That was a huge wake-up call for us,” said Bates. “It made me realize that I need to always carry documentation so that I can be recognized as a parent. It was scary for me having my family be injured, which was only exacerbated by being unable to prove that I was the one that could make decisions for both of them.”

When Rodriguez was pregnant, Bates went through the steps to legally adopt Myah. After undergoing a criminal background check, getting their home inspected and spending about $2,000 in fees, Bates was able to get her name on their daughter’s birth certificate.

She and Rodriguez also registered as domestic partners two years ago after lawmakers in Olympia approved a registry and granted couples basic rights that included the ability to visit each other in the hospital and make health care decisions on behalf of their partners.

Now, Washington legislators are considering broadening the rights of domestic partners to include pension benefits, estate taxes and other privileges that heterosexual couples and their children already have.