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

2012-NOV: Reactions to the passing of Referendum
R-74. DEC: Marriage licenses issued. Marriages follow.

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This topic is a continuation from the previous essay

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Reactions to the passage of R-74 (Cont'd):

  • Rev. Arthur Banks is pastor of the Eastside Baptist Church in Tacoma, and is president of the Tacoma Ministerial Alliance. He refuses to marry same-sex couples because such marriages are contrary to his interpretation of the Bible. He said:

    "God’s word says it’s not natural. I can’t support what God has condemned. The Bible says marriage is between one man and one woman."

    That is an odd comment, in view of all the men mentioned in the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) who had multiple wives. Lamech had 2 wives; Esau: 3; Jacob: 2; Ashur: 2; Gideon: many; Elkanah: 2; David: many; Solomon: 700; 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 which were criticized because he married many non-Hebrew wives who followed Pagan religions.

  • The Roman Catholic bishops in Washington actively fought R-74. Greg Magnioni, spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Seattle said that same-sex marriage is contrary to church teaching and tradition. There is no liturgy for marrying a same-sex couple. He said:

    "I couldn’t even imagine that happening,"

  • The Rev. Dave Brown of Immanuel Presbyterian Church in Tacoma expects to marry a same-sex couple even though his denomination, the Presbyterian Church, USA forbids it. He said:

    "It’s a matter of pastoral care. I couldn’t withhold that pastoral care from people."

  • The Rev. Melvin Woodworth of the First United Methodist Church, also in Tacoma, has already been asked to marry a same-sex couple. He said that such marriages are:

    "... compatible with the Holy Scriptures. We will marry same-sex couples on the same basis that we have always married heterosexual couples."

    His denomination, the United Methodist Church has conflicting rules about same-sex marriage. On one hand, their official policy forbids such marriages. On the other hand, their rules require him "... to make all of the church’s services available to all persons." 1

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2012-DEC-05/06: R-74 results certified. Marriage becomes available to same-sex couples:

On Wednesday, DEC-05, Governor Chris Gregoire and Secretary of State Sam Reed certified the vote on Referendum 74. The referendum, which enabled an earlier marriage equality law, took effect at 12:01 AM Pacific time the next day. 3

All loving, committed Washington couples, who meet the requirements of the marriage act -- whether of the same gender or opposite gender -- were able to buy marriage licenses throughout the state on Thursday, 2012-DEC-06 when the SSM law went into effect. Also, from DEC-06, couples who live in Washington state and who had been married elsewhere had their marriages recognized.

The following You Tube video shows a crowd gathered at the King Country Administration Building anxious for the opening of the doors so that they could obtain licenses:

  2

Don Savage and Terry Miller founded the "It Gets Better Project" to help prevent suicides among LGBT youth who have given up hope that they will be able to live a normal life. They were among the first couples to obtain a marriage license in King County on DEC-06. 3

Savage said:

"It’s really a remarkable journey we’ve been on and such a remarkable sea change. And not just for gay people, but straight people have changed, too. It’s gotten better for us because straight people have gotten better about us. ... It turned out that marriage equality passed by a wider margin here in Washington State than the other three states where there was a marriage vote. That was really thrilling and affirming, and we’ve worked really hard to bring Washington State around."

  3

The first marriage license in King County was issued at 12:01 AM.

Pete-e Petersen, 85, and Jane Abbott Lighty, 77 were the first couple to obtain a license. They first met on a blind date in Sacramento and have been together for 35 years. They plan to marry on the first date possible: Sunday DEC-09. Peterson said:

"We waited a long time. We've been together 35 years, never thinking we'd get a legal marriage. Now I feel so joyous I can't hardly stand it." 4

Deb Dulaney, 54, and Diane McGee, 64, who live in Olympia WA have been together for 16 years. They were registered in California as domestic partners, and moved to Washington state in 2005 where they were registered by the city of Seattle as domestic partners. They re-registered as domestic partners when the state passed an enabling law in 2007. Now they plan to take the final step by marrying sometime before early 2013-FEB during the 60 day interval for which their license is valid. Dulaney said:

"I feel much more moved by it than I thought I would. I thought we were just going to come here, get the paperwork and go home. But now, it's like, 'whoa'."

McGee responded:

"It's for real now. 4"

By 3:30 AM on Thursday, 212 licenses had been issued. By 6:45 AM, more than 300 had been distributed in King County. 3 More than 760 licenses were issued statewide; most were to same-sex couples.

According to the Bellingham Herald:

"... Three days ...[later], gay and lesbian couples [with licences] can legally marry with all the [state] benefits and rights as their heterosexual counterparts." 5

Actually, under the "everything but marriage" law passed in 2009, same-sex "civil unionized" couples already received all of the Washington state benefits and rights as opposite-sex married couples received, except for what might be the most important right of all -- to call their relationship a marriage.

Seattle City Hall will be open on Sunday, DEC-09. Several judges are donating their time to marry more than 140 couples that day. In Olympia, WA, a group of judges have offered to perform ceremonies starting a 12:01 AM on Sunday at the Thurston County courthouse. 4

Approval of this referendum gave same-sex married couples this right and the status that accompanies a marriage. However, they will still be denied about 1,150 federal benefits and rights because of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). DOMA has been declared unconstitutional by numerous federal District Courts and Courts of Appeal. It is currently being appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. With the passage of R-74, same-sex married couples will be set up to receive these federal benefits and rights if and when the Supreme Court declares DOMA to be unconstitutional.

Since the R-74 passed with a margin of fewer than 10 percentage points, there is a reasonable possibility that religious and social conservatives will mount a new referendum in the future in the hope of repealing R-74 and banning SSM once more. Only time will tell whether they have the inclination, energy, and financial backing to do so. They would have to act quickly, because support for SSM in the U.S. continues to rise by one or two percentage points per year while opposition is dropping at about the same rate.

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Webmaster's note:

After reading about the different responses from Christian clergy, one might wonder if Baptist, Presbyterian and Methodist denominations are reading the same Bible. They are, although the English translations that they use may be slightly different. Unfortunately, the six or so biblical "clobber passages" that some believe all refer to same-gender sexual behavior are ambiguous. Sincere, devout, intelligent, and thoughtful theologians in various denominations interpret the passages very differently and reach opposite conclusions about the morality of such behavior and of SSM itself.

Also, more liberal/progressive denominations tend to weigh four factors when establishing their beliefs: personal experience and the findings of science in addition to their Bible interpretation and denominational traditions. More conservative denominations tend to downplay personal experience and scientific findings, while emphasizing their biblical interpretations and denominational traditions. Thus, they frequently arrive at opposite conclusions.

We once conducted a pilot study to determine if people can use prayer to assess the will of God about SSM. It produced some startling results which may reveal some fundamental properties of prayer.

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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. Steve Maynard, "Pastors split on decision to perform weddings," The Bellingham Herald, 2012-NOV-11, at: http://www.bellinghamherald.com/
  2. Bridgette P. LaVictore, "As Washington Issues Marriage Licences, Maryland Certifies Same-Sex Marriage," LezGetReal, 2010-DEC-06, at: http://lezgetreal.com/
  3. "Dan Savage and husband get Washington marriage license," Seattle PI, 2012-DEC-06, at: http://blog.seattlepi.com/
  4. Rachel La Corte & Manuel Valdes, "Washington Gay Marriage: Same-Sex Couples Obtain Marriage Licenses For The First Time," Huffington Post, 2012-DEC-06, at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com
  5. "Washington a beacon for marriage equality," The Spokesman-Review, 2012-NOV-09, at: http://www.spokesman.com/

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Copyright © 2012 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Original posting: 2012-NOV-8
Latest update: 2012-DEC-07
Author: B.A. Robinson

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