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Ahern apologizes for remark about domestic partners

From Staff and Wire Reports The Spokesman-Review

OLYMPIA – A day after stunning a legislative hearing by asking what was to prevent a person from registering as a domestic partner with a dog, Rep. John Ahern, R-Spokane, on Wednesday said he was sorry for an “inappropriate” example.

“I had no idea that it would create the stir that it actually did,” he said.

Ahern raised the question during discussion of a proposal to expand the rights of same-sex and heterosexual senior-citizen couples under the state’s year-old domestic partnerships law.

The measure passed a House committee Wednesday and could be up for a vote on the House floor within the next two weeks.

On Tuesday, Ahern was questioning the House bill’s prime sponsor, Jamie Pedersen, one of half a dozen gay lawmakers in Washington’s legislature. Pederson was testifying with his partner and their 5-month-old son when Ahern asked how the state could guard against people registering pets or fictional people as partners.

When Ahern pressed the point, asking if the state had a “Gestapo” to check up on the validity of domestic partners, he was cut off in mid-sentence by Rep. Dennis Flannigan, D-Tacoma.

On Wednesday, Ahern apologized to Pedersen and the other members of the House Judiciary Committee.

“I do want to say this: I thoroughly apologize for the statement I made,” he said. “At the same time I want to say that every member on this committee I like very much and respect with equality.”

“In any event, I again want to say that the statement I made yesterday was, I think, inappropriate and out of line,” he continued. “I truly apologize for this and ask for your forgiveness.”

The bill would grant same-sex couples more than 170 of the benefits and responsibilities given to married couples, including property and guardianship rights.

The House Judiciary Committee passed it on a 7-4 vote.

It would add domestic partners to sections of laws where previously only spouses were mentioned, including sections about probate and trusts, community property and homestead exemptions.

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