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What makes a family?

Who decides who qualifies as a family?

What protections should a family have?


As concepts of family evolve, these questions and many more inform Legal Voice's work in supporting all families. We recognize that our work in family law, LGBTQ rights, and reproductive freedom are linked by the core question of who gets treated as a "family" under the law. We also recognize that women are at the center of the family structure, continuing in many families to take on the majority of childcare responsibilities while also being an important source of family financial support. So we work to reform and enforce state laws in our region to ensure that all families—whether different-sex or same-sex, unmarried, inter-generational, single-parent, adoptive, or child-free—are recognized and protected by the law.



  • Working to ensure legal recognition and equal treatment of LGBTQ families and parents in all Northwest states.

  • Educating the public about Washington's marriage equality law and advocating for fair implementation and enforcement of the law.

  • Continuing our work to ensure that adults who have functioned in every respect as a parent can be legally recognized and have the right to retain their relationship with their child, even if they are not biological or adoptive parents.

  • Advocating for the rights of incarcerated mothers and their children to maintain their relationships.

  • Advocating for updating Washington’s child support schedule so that it is based on more current economic data.



  • Submitting an amicus brief as part of the Alliance in the U.S. Supreme Court case that overturned all state laws banning marriages of same-sex couples.
    Obergefell v. Hodges


  • Winning passage of a bill to close a gap in Washington's child abduction statute limiting the ability of prosecuters to charge abusers with criminal custodial interference when they abduct children in violation of domestic violence protection orders.
    HB 1302 - 2015 session


  • Successfully advocating for the Children of Incarcerated Parents Act, a bill that helps preserve relationships between incarcerated parents and their children.
    HB 1284 - 2013 session

  • Fighting for marriage equality in Washington for nearly a decade in the courts (Andersen v. King County), in the Legislature, and at the ballot box—culminating in the historic victory in 2012 in which Washington voters approved Referendum 74 to extend the freedom to marry to all lesbian and gay couples.

  • Prior to marriage equality, helping to win passage of domestic partnership laws for same-sex and senior couples from 2007–2009, and successfully defending the law at the ballot box by winning Referendum 71 in 2009.


  • Successfully arguing that unmarried same-sex couples in Washington be accorded the same property division rules as unmarried different-sex couples living in committed intimate relationships, whether in inheritance or dissolution.
    Vasquez v. Hawthorne
    Gormley v. Robertson


  • Ensuring that women and men in committed intimate relationships receive a fair and equitable division of pension benefits, even if they are unmarried.
    Owens v. Automotive Machinists Pension


  • Helping to defeat the Family Second Chances Act that would have required a one-year waiting period before a couple could obtain a divorce in Washington.

  • Successfully urging the Montana Supreme Court to require the Montana University System to provide domestic partnership benefits to same-sex couples as well as to unmarried different-sex couples.
    Snetsinger v. Montana University System


  • Helping ensure that Montana law protects the rights of lesbian parents to maintain relationships with their non-biological children, and to ensure that lesbian and gay couples have the right to a fair and equitable division of their property when a relationship ends.
    Kulstad v. Maniaci


  • Winning passage of sweeping legislation in 2011 to update Washington’s Uniform Parentage Act to ensure equal treatment of lesbian and gay parents and to extend protections for unmarried parents.
    HB 1267 - 2011 session


  • Winning the first Washington case that recognized a non-biological mother's right to parent her child.
    In re Parentage of L.B.


  • Successfully defending the rights of non-biological parents to be treated as full and equal parents under the law.
    In re Custody of A.F.J.
    In re Custody of B.M.H.


  • Educating grandparents and other kinship caregivers about their rights and how the legal system can help them by publishing Options for Grandparents and Other Nonparental Caregivers.

  • Persuading the Washington Court of Appeals to overturn a decision terminating the parental rights of a domestic violence victim, in which the court identified her relationships with abusive men as a parental deficiency.
    In re Dependency of B.R.


  • Successfully urging the Montana Supreme Court, in the first case of its kind in the nation, to recognize that when a battered woman and her children have fled to another state, a court must consider domestic violence as a reason to let the court of the other state determine child custody issues.
    Stoneman v. Drollinger


  • Changing Washington law to protect a custodial parent's constitutional right to relocate with her children.

  • Ensuring that women may obtain a divorce without regard to whether or not they are pregnant.
    Hughes v. Hughes

  • Successfully urged the Washington Supreme Court to maintain provisions of Washington’s Parenting Act and affirm parenting plans that are in the best interest of the child(ren).
    In re Marriage of Chandola


  • Advocated for and endorsed drug policy changes that reduce incarceration of women for drug offenses, keeping women and their children and families together.
    Blog: Weed & Women: Why Supporting Legalization of Marijuana Can Help Women by Lillian Hewko


  • Ensuring that frozen "pre-embryos" are not treated as children, and that decision-making about them does not depend on genetic connection.
    Litowitz v. Litowitz


  • Legal Voice's LGBTQ victories, from the 1980s to 2014

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