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

2012-FEB: House passes bill.
Bill is signed into law. Coalition formed
to place referendum on 2012-NOV ballot.

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

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2012-FEB-08: House passes SSM bill (SB 6239); Bill sent to Governor:

The bill contains a number of amendments that permit religious groups to actively discriminate against loving, committed same-sex couples who wish to marry. The amendments appear to have been added to give added assurance to religious conservatives. The amendments specify that religious institutions, individual churches, clergy, religiously affiliated adoption and fostering agencies may refuse to offer any services to same-sex couples. The amendments are largely redundant; they are not really needed, because faith groups are already protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution; they have been so protected for centuries.

Another amendment was proposed but defeated. It would have extended this same exemption to individuals and companies involved in weddings, like wedding photographers, wedding cake bakers, stores that rent or sell wedding gowns, etc. Another amendment that would have required a one-month residency period before a same-sex couple could marry in Washington State was also defeated. It was presumably proposed in order to make it more difficult for out of state same-sex couples to come to Washington to marry.

By a vote of 55 to 43, the state House approved the SSM legislation. It now goes to the desk of Governor Chris Gregoire (D) for her signature. It is expected during the week of FEB-12. As soon as she signs it into law, opponents to SSM will be able to start registering signatures on a petition to place a referendum on the November ballot repeal the law. If they collect enough signatures quickly enough, they will be able to prevent the law from coming into effect in mid-2012.

Two Republicans voted in favor of the bill, and thereby indicated that they were in favor of applying the 14 Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to Washington state marriage law. They also showed that they recognized the expressed support of SSM by most Washington state voters as shown by recent polls. Three Democrats voted against the bill. Otherwise, voting was according to party lines with Democrats supporting the bill and Republicans opposed.

According to CBS News:

"Sen. Ed. Murray, who is gay and has sponsored gay rights legislation for years ... said the vote marked 'a day that will be remembered in the history of this state'."

"[Governor] Gregoire issued a statement after the vote, saying it was 'a major step toward completing a long and important journey to end discrimination based on sexual orientation'." 3

Governor Chris Gregoire is expected to sign the bill into law on Monday 2012-FEB-13.

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2012-FEB-13: Bill becomes law:

Governor Christian Gregoire signed the SSM bill into law.

Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign -- a gay equality group -- said:

"Today's signature of the marriage equality law puts Washington on the road to fairness for all families. ... While those opposed to marriage for gay and lesbian couples will no doubt try to undo this progress, I am confident that equality will prevail in Washington. ... This victory was possible thanks to the hard work of so many on the ground in Washington. Our congratulations go to Sen. Ed Murray and Rep. Jamie Pedersen, along with Gov. Gregoire, who were incredible leaders in this effort."

This makes the state of Washington the seventh state to legalize SSM. Including the District of Columbia, same-sex marriage is now available in 8 U.S. jurisdictions.

However, once the bill became law, opponents are now free to start collecting signatures to force a referendum to repeal the law on election day in 2012-NOV.

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2012-FEB-14: Coalition formed to place referendum on ballot.

According to an e-mail distributed by Brian S. Brown -- a member of the Executive Committee of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) -- to the NOM mailing list, his group is joining with the "... Family Policy Institute of Washington, Stand for Marriage Washington, Concerned Women for America and hundreds of other groups, pastors and individuals to take this issue directly to the people in November via a referendum."

A few hours after the SSM bill was signed into law, a proposed referendum was filed with the Washington Secretary of State. They expect approval of the wording within a few weeks. This will allow them to start to collect signatures on a petition to place the referendum on the ballot on election day in early 2012-NOV.

Their next goal is to collect 120,577 valid voter signatures on the petition before 2012-JUN-06. In reality, they will have to collect somewhat more than this number because some signatures will prove to be invalid. If they achieve this goal, then the SSM law will be prevented from going into effect during July. The earliest time when loving, committed same-sex couples might be able to marry would be in 2012-DEC after the official vote count of the referendum is determined.

In the meantime, the group wants to identify 50,000 individuals who are willing to circulate petitions for signatures. This seems like a strange number because each volunteer would then only have to collect an average of about 2.4 signatures in order to meet their target. Organizing, say, 5,000 volunteers and expect each to collect about two dozen signatures would seem to be a much simpler task. Perhaps they slipped a decimal place in their calculations.

For those who wish to deny loving, committed same-sex couples access to marriage but are unable to circulate petitions, NOM writes:

"You can join with thousands of others to pray for the success of the referendum effort. This is a spiritual battle as much as it is a political battle."

He concludes his e-mail with the usual request for money and the comment:

"It seems like marriage is under attack all over the country, and NOM is doing everything we can every day to preserve marriage. We must be successful in getting this referendum on the ballot in Washington state. Please help us."

We received an e-mail from a reader of Brian Brown's e-mail who is in favor of marriage equality. He made three points:

  • When Brian refers to marriage under attack, he is referring to the hundreds of thousands of American same-sex couples who enthusiastically want to strengthen the institution of marriage by getting married ASAP.

  • When Brian refers to preserving marriage, he means to preserve marriage exclusively for opposite-sex couples by prohibiting marriage of same-sex couples.

  • God seems to love human diversity. He creates people of:
    • different genders (male, female, and intersexual);
    • different gender identities (both transgender persons who feel they are a woman trapped in a male body or vice-versa) and cisgendered persons whose genetic sex, birth-identified sex, and perceived sex are in harmony;
    • different races and skin colors;
    • different sizes and shapes;
    • etc.

Perhaps God enjoys interacting with people of various sexual orientations as well, and thus creates some people heterosexual, others bisexual and still others homosexual for the pure joy of diversity.

The person who sent the e-mail suggests that we will see NOM's army of prayer warriors praying for the referendum to win and SSMs to end. Meanwhile, many same-sex couples, religious liberals, secularists, human rights activists, etc. will pray for the referendum to fail and SSMs to be made available.

He suggests that, if prayer is an effective method of influencing God's will that we will see what the will of God is by monitoring the outcome of the referendum on election day.

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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. Nichole Neroulias, "Washington Gay Marriage: Opponents Planning Referendum Amid Bill Advancement," 2012-FEB-03, at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/
  2. Rachel La Corte, "House committee advances gay marriage bill," KIMATV, 2012-FEB-06, at: http://www.kimatv.com/
  3. Rachel La Corte, "Washington state lawmakers pass gay marriage bill," CBS News, 2012-FEB-10,at: http://www.cbsnews.com/
  4. "Washington State Gov's signature makes history with Marriage Equality Law," Human Rights Campaign news release, 2012-FEB-13, at: http://www.windycitymediagroup.com/
  5. "Referendum 74 gets a new ballot title; right wing to launch anti-equality signature drive," Northwest Progressive Institute Advocate, 2012-MAR-13, at: http://www.nwprogressive.org/

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Copyright © 2012 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Original posting: 2012-FEB-07
Latest update: 2012-MAR-14
Author: B.A. Robinson

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