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Religious Tolerance logo

Efforts to legalize same-sex marriage (SSM) in Washington State:

2012-JAN: Archbishop Sartain of Seattle
opposes bill. Senate and House hearings.

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This topic is a continuation from the previous essay ....

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2012-JAN-21: Catholic Archbishop J. Peter Sartain of the Diocese of Seattle issues appeal:

Archbishop Sartain had an announcement titled "Protect Marriage" published in his parish bulletins. He asked the laity to "call, email or write" legislators, urging opposition to the same-sex marriage bill being introduced in the House and Senate. He wrote:

"Legislators will be voting soon on whether to change the current law defining marriage.  Marriage between a man and a woman is essential for family life and is the foundation of any society.

Please call, email or write your state Senator and two Representatives urging them to support the current law and defend marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

Call 1-800-562-6000 to leave a message for your legislators.  Go to the Washington State Legislature website at: to find your legislator and to write or email a message to them."

Joel Connelly, writing for Seattle PI commented:

"The nation’s bishops have had trouble corralling their flock to the cause."

He appears to be referring to the fact that the Roman Catholic laity is more supportive of marriage equality than the general population, even as the church's hierarchy is unalterably opposed. 1

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2012-JAN-23: House and Senate hold hearings on same-sex marriage:

Supporters and opponents of marriage equality filled a small Senate committee hearing room to capacity at 10 AM. The former wore stickers saying "Washington United for Marriage;" the latter wore buttons saying "Marriage. One man. One woman."

Sen. Ed Murray, sponsor of the Senate bill S 6239, and his longtime partner Michael Shiosaki testified before the Government Operations, Tribal Relations & Elections Committee. Murray said:

"I have waited 17 years to ask this body to consider marriage equality for gay and lesbian families. I realize the issue of marriage for our families is emotional and divisive. It touches what each of us holds most dear, our families."

Commenting on domestic partnerships, Michael Shiosaki said:

"No matter when and where or how it is tried, history has demonstrated that separate is not equal. We hope this is the year we can marry."

Ken Hutcherson, pastor of Antioch Bible Church, said:

"You are saying as a committee and a Legislature that you know better than God."

He also said:

"If you pass this bill you are just as narrow minded, you're just as bigoted and you're just as unloving to everything and anyone who wants to get married outside of one man, woman and two men and two women."

We are at a loss trying to understand this comment. We tried to follow up with Pastor Hutcherson via email. As expected, we did not receive a response.

Roman Catholic Archbishop J. Peter Sartain of the Archdiocese of Seattle said:

"The state has long recognized the societal benefits of promoting strong families because they establish a framework for healthy permanent male, female relationships"

We are also at a loss interpreting this statement. The bill would affect only loving, committed same-sex couples and not have any impact on marriages by opposite-sex couples.

Joseph Backholm, with the Family Policy Institute of Washington, a group that opposes marriage equality, said that a plebiscite should be held on whether to expand marriage to include same-sex couples. He said:

"This is so much more than a legal debate. The institution of marriage does not belong to the Legislature. It belongs to the people. ... I am confident that this state, like every other state, that has had the option will weigh the evidence and ultimately conclude that moms and dads do matter.

His second point apparently implies that a child needs both a mother and a father to thrive. A number of recent studies have compared children raised by a mother and a father, with kids raised by two fathers, and other kids raised by two mothers, and report that all three family styles do equally well at raising children.

Jennifer Roback Morse, of the Ruth Institute in San Diego, CA, She said:

"Marriage attaches mother and fathers to their children and to one another. ... Do you want a world in which children have three or four parents?"

It is unclear from the news reports what her point was:

  • She may have wished to imply that SSM would inevitably lead to polygamy.

  • She might have been attacking lesbian couples who might use donated sperm and artificial insemination to conceive children, as do many opposite-sex couples who are infertile.

  • She may have been attacking lesbian, gay, bisexual and heterosexual couples who adopt children.

Brennen Smith, 16, told the story of his gay parents, and the 30 foster children that they looked after over time. He said that they included:

"Child rape victims, drug affected families, incarcerated parents, parents with extreme mental health issues and victims of childhood neglect.  I wonder why these parents, even though they are incapable of providing a safe and stable household, can marry an infinite amount of times while mine cannot marry once. ... My house is proof that the stability and quality of a couple's parenting has nothing to do with the combination of their genders."

Supporters of the bill say that they might be voted upon in the Senate and House during the first part of February.

The National Organization for Marriage, whose main goal is to prevent the marriage of same-sex couples, issued a statement promising to hold a referendum campaign to overturn the SSM bill if it is signed into law. During 2011-OCT, the University of Washington conducted a poll that showed that in the event a referendum were held, 55% would vote to continue the law while 38% said that they would reject the law. 2,3

During the afternoon of JAN-23, a House hearing was held on HB 2516. Jim Justin, legislative director for Gov. Chris Gregoire said that the Governor feels that it is time to allow both same-sex and opposite-sex couples to receive marriage licenses. The governor believes that there is no legitimate state interest in denying a license to same-sex couples. He said:

"It is the responsibility of the state to license, while it's the right of a church to decide whom to marry, and we belieive this bill makes it very clear the state will honor ... [their] religious freedom." 4

As noted elsewhere, the religious freedom being referred to is the religious freedom to discriminate against sexual minorities.

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This topic continues in the next essay ....

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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.

  1. John Connelly, "Archbishop Sartain: 'Protect Marriage'," Seattle PI, 2012-JAN-22, at:
  2. "Committees hold gay marriage hearings in Olympia," Associated Press, 2012-JAN-23, at:
  3. Andrew Garber, "No outbursts or demonstrations at gay marriage hearing," The Seattle Times, 2012-JAN-23, at:
  4. "Gay marriage supporters say they have enough votes in legislature," Associated Press & KING 5 News, 2012-JAN-23, at:

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Copyright © 2012 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Original posting: 2012-JAN-22
Latest update: 2012-FEB-09
Author: B.A. Robinson

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