Efforts to legalize same-sex marriage (SSM) in Washington State:
2011-NOV to 2012-JAN: SSM campaign begins.
Governor & Seattle Times newspaper support SSM.
2011-NOV-14: Campaign begins to legalize same-sex marriage:
Washington United for Marriage is a new coalition of pro-marriage equality groups. It includes: includes the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington, Equal Rights Washington, Faith Action Network, Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest, SEIU Washington State Council, and other organizations. 2
The coalition launched a campaign on Monday, NOV-14 to make the state of Washington the eighth jurisdiction to legalize same-sex marriage (SSM). As of 2011-NOV, SSMs are available in the District of Columbia and six states. In the state of Washington, loving, committed same-sex couples can currently register as domestic partners and receive all of the state benefits and protections of marriage. But they cannot call their relationships marriages. If they were able to get married like opposite-sex couples can, they could refer to their significant others as "my husband" or "my wife" instead of "my partner." They would also be able to receive all of the 1,150 or so federal benefits that are currently restricted to opposite-sex married couples because of the federal Defense of Marriage Act -- if and when DOMA is repealed or declared unconstitutional.
Rod Hearne, the executive director of Equal Rights Washington, said, "This is about something inexpressible; it’s about a bond we share with our partners, that loving relationship we can have with our kids." 3
Some politicians weighed in with their beliefs:
- The Democratic gubernatorial candidate, Jay Inslee, supports SSM. His spokesperson Jamie Smith said: "For him, it's an equal rights issue. He feels really strongly that the government shouldn't have a role in preventing a committed [same-sex] couple from enjoying the kind of marriage he has with his wife."
- The Republican gubernatorial candidate, State Attorney General Rob McKenna, is opposed to a SSM law but does support the existing domestic partnership law. His campaign manager, Randy Pepple, said that: "Rob believes that this is an issue that is going to be decided by the voters."
- Senator Ed Murray (D, Seattle) said that SSM bills would be introduced into the House and Senate during 2012-JAN. 1
- King County Executive Dow Constantine said: "Now is the time to take action, to finally recognize the equality and protect the rights of all the people of Washington. I will work in whatever capacity I can to see this legislation passed in Olympia, or if necessary at the ballot box, and look forward to the day I can sign marriage certificates for all adult couples in King County." 2
Gary Randall, president of the conservative religious group Faith and Freedom Network promised to oppose marriage equality which he called: "the assault on marriage and a crusade to redefine it." He said: "We believe in marriage. We are willing to defend it, despite the scorn sometimes directed at this stand." When he says that he wants to defend marriage, he apparently means that he wants to defend the current definition of marriage which excludes same-sex couples from being able to marry. 1
Pastor Ken Hutcherson is the senior pastor of Antioch Bible Church in Kirkland WA, and is the founder of the anti-SSM group Mayday for Marriage. He opposed the domestic partnership law in 2009 and is cooperating with various churches to fight SSM. He said: "I want this push to be as dead as the buffalo on my wall. I’m a man of the Bible, I’m a pastor, a shepherd that leads his people and we’re going to get our people organized to go against this, and we're going to put hopefully as much pressure on the Legislature as they are." 3,4
Nancy Woods and Jane Simpson are a same-sex couple from Redmond WA who have been together for 11 years, and who are raising three young children. They attended the kick-off meeting. Nancy said: "Everyone else has the right to be married, to have that recognized. When I say, 'That's my partner,' people say, 'Oh, business partner'?" 1
Robin and Stephen Boehler of Mercer Island are an opposite-sex couple who have been happily married for 32 years. They have two married daughters. However, Sarah, their third and youngest daughter, is a lesbian and cannot get married in the state.
Steven said: "Getting married to my wife Robin may have been the best thing that ever happened to me. ... I don't see any reason why (my daughter) shouldn't have the same kind of joy I found,"
Robin, referring to registered partnerships in the state, said: "Having something that sounds like marriage, but isn't quite marriage, is equivalent -- in my view -- to a separate drinking fountain. And that's not something I support." 3
2011-NOV-14: The Seattle Times newspaper calls for legalization of SSM:
The Times editorial/opinion page said, in part:
"All right, Washington state: Let's do something bold. In the name of fairness and equality for all residents, it is time to stop working around the edges of domestic partnership rules and benefits. Our state should legalize same-sex marriage. ..."
"Why not? There is no good reason to support gradations of benefits and recognition. This state should be a leader on a matter of fairness and equality."
"A few years ago, Washington voters said they support the Legislature's passage of a domestic-partnership law that gave gays and lesbians in our state 'everything but marriage'."
"But if you think about that, 'everything but marriage' is half a loaf. Social attitudes and mores change slowly, but attitudes toward gay marriage are evolving quickly. Several polls show support for same-sex marriage building among Washington residents."
"Lawmakers cannot afford expenditures for new programs right now because the budget is so strapped. But approving gay marriage would not cost much. ..."
"... there is no good reason to wait. Washington should join the other states that recognize committed gay and lesbian relationships, and their families, as full-fledged marriages. Not domestic partnerships. Not civil unions. Marriage, just like everyone else." 5
2012-JAN-04: Governor calls for SSM bills to be introduced in January:
Governor Chris Gregoire (D) called for bills legalizing SSM to be introduced in the state Senate and House during the week of 2012-JAN-08. She noted that her own personal beliefs concerning marriage equality have evolved along with the public's growing support for SSM. She is a Roman Catholic. Her personal beliefs agree with the majority of Catholic laity who support SSM. However, they conflict with the hierarchy who strongly oppose SSM, because they regard a person's homosexual orientation as intrinsically disordered; they regard same-gender sexual activity to be a grave sin that can rise to the level of a mortal sin and cause a person to be sent to Hell after death.
Senator Murray (D-Seattle), chairperson of the predicted that a few more votes would be required to pass the bill in the Senate. Supporters of the bill are currently discussing the wording of the bill with swing-vote senators. Murray said:
"I can get Republican votes for gay marriage, but I can't get a Republican to vote for raising taxes. This bill will not pass without bipartisan support. ... I'm chairman of the Ways and Means Committee without any means [referring to the current budget crisis]. If you think there is something to trade, there isn't. It's about where people are personally." 6
One clause in the proposed bills would allow individual religious denominations to continue to discriminate against same-sex couples with impunity. If passed, Washington state would be the tenth political jurisdiction to legalize SSM: seven states, the District of Columbia, the Suquamish reservation in Washington and the Coquille Indian Tribe in Oregon.
Rep. Jamie Pedersen, (D-Seattle), believes that the House will easily pass a gay-marriage bill. He and a number of other representatives would prefer to not leave the matter to a public referendum, but would encourage such a referendum if the bills do not proceed in the legislature.
References used in this essay:
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
- Gene Johnson, "Effort to make gay marriage legal in Wash. begins," Associated Press, 2011-NOV-14, at: http://www.seattlepi.com/
- Warren Kagarise, "King County Executive Dow Constantine backs same-sex marriage," Issaquah Press, 2011-NOV-15, at: http://www.issaquahpress.com/
- John Hopperstad, "New push under way for legalizing same-sex marriage in state. Washington United for Marriage is new lobbying group," My Fox, Spokane, 2011-NOV-14, at: http://www.q13fox.com/
- "Pastor Ken Hutcherson," Baptist.org, at: http://www.baptist.org/pastor-ken-hutcherson/
- Time for Washington Legislature to legalize same-sex marriage," Seattle Times editorial, 2011-NOV-14, at: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/
- "Washington's Senate will be the battleground for legalizing gay marriage ," Crosscut.com, 2012-JAN-04, at: http://crosscut.com
Copyright © 2011 & 2012 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Original posting: 2011-NOV-15
Latest update: 2012-JAN-10
Author: B.A. Robinson