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Religious Tolerance logo

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

2012-SEP: Opposition from Preserve Marriage Washington.

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This topic is a continuation from the previous essay

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Arguments from those opposed to SSM:

The main opposition to SSM in Washington is provided by Preserve Marriage Washington. They warn:

"For thousands of years, marriage between one man and one woman has proven to be the cornerstone of our society. Thirty-two other states have already voted to preserve marriage -- November 6 is our opportunity to do the same. Since same-sex couples already enjoy all the benefits of marriage in Washington -- and same-sex marriage would grant no new rights whatsoever -- it’s clear that the other side’s intent in this battle is to reinvent the family and make marriage a genderless institution." 2

In reality:

  • The biblical definition of marriage was not the exclusive union of one man and one woman. It was the union of one man and one or more women. He also may have had a sexual relationship with multiple slaves and concubines. In Genesis 4:19, Lamech became the first known polygamist when he took two wives. Subsequent men with two or more wives included: Esau with 3 wives; Jacob: 2; Ashur: 2; Gideon: many; Elkanah: 2; David: many; Solomon: 700 wives of royal birth and 300 concubines; Rehaboam: 3; Abijah: 14. Jehoram, Joash, Ahab, Jeholachin and Belshazzar also had multiple wives. The Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) contains no negative comments on such marriages except for Solomon's marriages; they were criticized only because he married many non-Hebrew wives who followed Pagan religions.

  • Opposite-sex marriages will continue to be the "cornerstone of our society" if the SSM law is enabled. The only change will be that loving committed same-sex couples will also be allowed to marry. They would eventually total perhaps 3% of all marriages. It will never become a "genderless" institution because about 97% of all marriages will continue to be between one man and one woman.

  • Same-sex couples to not enjoy all the benefits of marriage. They can register their relationships as a State Registered Domestic Partnership (SRDP). However, they are denied the right to call their registered relationships marriages. They and their children do not have the status in society that they would have if they were able to marry. This is viewed by many such couples as the main benefit of marriage.

    Also the federal Defense of Marriage Act has been determined to be unconstitutional in five federal courts. If and when it is repealed by Congress or declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court, then:
    • Married same-sex couples would automatically receive the additional 1,050 or so federal benefits and protections for themselves and their children that married opposite-sex couples receive.
    • If same-sex couples are not allowed to marry, then they would be limited to SRDPs. They would continue to receive no federal benefits because they are not legally married in the state.

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The Preserve Marriage Washington web site discusses the law passed in early 2012 that legalizes SSM. The web site states:

  • "Governor Gregoire enacted SB 6239 to strip the roles of men and women from marriage and make it genderless."

    This is not valid. As noted above, if the law is upheld, about 97% of all marriages will continue to be between one man and one woman.Also, whatever roles an opposite-sex or same-sex married couples adopt are defined by the couple themselves and are as unique as each couple is.

  • "The legislation also made commonly understood terms like 'husband and wife' to be 'gender neutral.' Under the law, a man can be a 'wife,' and a woman can be a 'husband'."

    This is also not valid. A wife will continue to be a female married spouse and a husband will continue to be a male married spouse. Two men in a same-sex marriage typically refer to each other as their husband.

  • A "... legally sanctioned genderless marriage, rather than peacefully coexisting with the contemporary man-woman marriage institution, actually displaces and replaces it.'

    This doesn't make sense to us. The term "genderless marriage" presumably refers to a marriage between two persons of the same gender. In no way does such a marriage displace, nullify, or replace marriages between one man and one woman. The latter "gender-based" marriages would continue, unaffected. Same-sex marriage has been available in Massachusetts since 2004 and in Canada since 2005. The vast majority of marriages remain between one man and one woman. Only a tiny percentage are between two men or two women.

    If one considers previous times when marriage was redefined:
    • When marriages between African Americans were legalized after the Civil War, they were not race-free marriages that displaced, nullified or replaced white marriages.
    • When marriages between two deaf persons which had been banned in some states in the early 20th century became legalized, they were not hearing-free marriages that displaced, nullified or replaced marriages between two hearing persons.
    • When inter-racial marriages were legalized across the U.S. in 1967,  inter-racial marriage did not displace, nullify or replace same-race marriages.

Whenever these past redefinitions of marriage occurred, some people were upset, but they eventually were able to handle the change and it has since become a non-issue among the vast majority of Americans. The only lasting effect of the redefinitions has been that more loving, committed couples have been able to be married, and that the spouses and their children obatined increased stability, protection, and status.

  • "Marriage is a special relationship reserved exclusively for heterosexual unions because only the intimate relationship between men and women has the ability to produce children as a result of that sexual union. The marriage relationship is inherently different than a same-sex relationship in this important regard."

    An opposite-sex marriage in which one or both spouses is infertile is identical to a same-sex relationship "in this important regard." Opposite-sex infertile couples must resort to in-vitro fertilization, artificial insemination, surrogate parenthood, or adoption in order to add children to their family just as same-sex couples must. The point that Preserve Marriage Washington raises is intended to denigrate same-sex marriages. However, is also denigrates the status of opposite-sex marriages who cannot conceive children on their own.

  • "... the overwhelming body of social science evidence establishes that children do best when raised by their married mother and father."

    This is true but deceptive. This argument has been brought up in various courts but rejected by judges because the evidence presented is based on studies that compared children raised by an opposite-sex married couples with children raised by single parents. On average, the former thrive while the latter do less well. In recent years, many studies have compared children in families led by two parents of opposite gender with children in families led by parents of the same gender. The overwhelming majority of such studies indicate that children develop equally well; the critical factor is that the parents care for each other and for their children. 3

During the next month, Preserve Marriage Washington started placing their anti-SSM TV ads on state television and cable channels. They did not use any of the above arguments to attack SSM. Rather, they based their ads on the fear that same-sex couples might sue florists, wedding photographers, and other individuals or companies who refuse to providing services to same-sex engaged couples who are getting married. Independent studies by the Seattle Times and Washington United for Marriage showed that this fear is very unlikely. It has not been observed in the District of Columbia or in any of the other six states where SSM has been legalized. More details.

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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. Josh Wolford, "Jeff Bezos Gives $2.5 Million To Back Same-Sex Marriage In Washington," Web Pro News, 2012-JUL-27, at:
  2. "Why preserving marriage matters," Preserve Marriage Washington, undated, at:

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Copyright © 2012 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Original posting: 2012-JUL-27
Latest update: 2012-SEP-05
Author: B.A. Robinson

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