Seattle Mayor Acknowledges Same Sex Marriages

March 9, 2004 ( - Seattle Mayor Gregory Nickels has issued an executive order acknowledging the validity of marriages regardless of the sex of the individuals for purposes of city employee benefits.

The March 8 order was handed down by the Democratic mayor to ensure the same sex marriages of city employees are recognized in the same manner that opposite sex marriages are recognized by the city for its employees. In addition, the decree affirms the “city’s support for gay marriage.”

Nickels’ order also authorizes Seattle’s Office of Civil Rights to receive and investigatecomplaints from city employees regarding violations of this order and the city’s Personnel Department to devise guidelinesin accordance with the order. All other City departments are ordered to review their practices to ensure compliance with this Order, Nickels’ order states.

The order was issued, Nickels said, as a “matter of fairness” to protect all of the city’s employees from discrimination. To that end, in addition to the executive order, Nickels announced plans to propose a city ordinance to the city council that would provide couples in same-sex marriages protection from employment discrimination in both the private and public sector and prohibit city contractors from discriminating against individuals on the basis of marital status.

A similar proposal was struck down last April by the Port of Seattle commissioners. Last April’s initiative, defeated by a 3-1 margin, required contractors doing business with the port to provide domestic partner benefits (See Seattle Port Denies Domestic Partner Benefits Proposal ).

“An Executive Order Acknowledging the Validity of Marriages Regardless of the Sex of the Individuals for Purposes of City Employee Benefits and Affirming the City’s Support for Gay Marriage” (Executive Order 02-04) is available at .