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Religious Tolerance logo

Same-sex marriage (SSM) & domestic partnerships

King County, Washington
lawsuit, continued

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King County lawsuit  -- Andersen v. Sims (Cont'd):

This is a continuation of a previous essay.

On 2004-AUG-4, Hon. William L. Downing of King County Superior Court in Seattle ruled that "The denial to the plaintiffs of the right to marry constitutes a denial of substantive due process." 1 He declared that the state's Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional.

Judge Downing commented on the reasons put forth by the state and the interveners. Their main argument was that continuing the ban on same-sex marriage (SSM) encourages "...procreation and the raising of children in a healthy, nurturing environment." He countered these arguments by pointing out that:
bulletThe state has never required married couples to procreate.
bulletThe state has never denied marriage licenses to a couple who were "unable or disinclined to procreate."
bulletThere is no logical way in which banning SSM will encourage procreation.

[Author's note: In our opinion, the judge erred in this statement. Presumably some of the same-sex couples in Washington who seek to marry include a partner with a bisexual orientation. A small percentage of those couples might be opposed to adoption and to assisted reproduction procedures. If SSM were banned, the bisexual might decide to break off their relationship. The bisexual might seek out a new relationship with a member of the opposite sex who they would be able to marry and with whom they could have children. This is a bit of a long shot, but it could conceivably encourage procreation.

Also, if religious conservatives are correct, and sexual orientation is changeable, then banning SSM would encourage homosexuals to become heterosexuals, and also seek out an opposite-sex partner to marry. However, what little data that is available on reparative therapy and transformational ministry indicates that the success rate at changing individual's sexual orientation from homosexual to heterosexual is a very small percentage of 1%.]
bulletReferring to the children of the plaintiffs, who were either conceived by In-vitro fertilization or adopted, he said: "It rationally serves no state interest to harm certain of those children by devaluing the immediate families that they have joined."
bulletHe determined that there is no logical way in which denying SSM would promote stable families and be good for children.

He predicted that: "Gay and lesbian couples will feel the human instinct to wish to raise children, they will have available either the supportive adoption laws or the technological means to begin raising a family and they will enjoy the increasing public acceptance of such families. All this is certain."

He quoted the rulings of:
bulletThe Vermont Supreme Court in 1999: "If anything, the exclusion of same-sex couples from the legal protections incident to marriage exposes their children to the precise risks that the State argues the marriage laws are designed to secure against."
bulletThe Massachusetts Supreme Court in 2003. "Excluding same-sex couples from civil marriage will not make children of opposite-sex marriages more secure, but it does prevent children of same-sex couples from enjoying the immeasurable advantages that flow from the assurance of a stable family structure in which children will be reared, educated, and socialized."

He noted that:

"...there are no scientifically valid studies tending to establish a negative impact on the adjustment of children raised by an intact same-sex couple as compared with those raised by an intact opposite-sex couple. The offered studies, anecdotal experiences and opinions regarding children from broken homes or children raised by a single parent have no logical relevance. Unlike the documented impact of children's exposure to domestic violence and substance abuse in the homes of lawfully married heterosexual couples, as to children raised by intact same-sex couples there is no science, only questionable assumptions based on stereotypes."

He concluded that:

"The Court concludes that the exclusion of same-sex partners from civil marriage and the privileges attendant thereto is not rationally related to any legitimate or compelling state interest and is certainly not narrowly tailored toward such an interest....After long and careful reflection, it is this Court?s firm conviction that the effect of today?s ruling truly favors both the interest of individual liberty and that of future generations." 2

Reactions to Judge Downing's ruling:

Jennifer Pizer, lead counsel in the case for Lambda Legal Defense said:

"Judge Downing saw the couples in the courtroom and he's recognized that they are full and equal citizens of Washington. No more and no less."

King County Executive Ron Sims was a defendant in the case because of his official position. He said the ruling was a powerful affirmation of equal rights.

"I think marriage is an incredibly wonderful institution and that people who love each other should be allowed to be involved in it." 1

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. "Judge in Seattle rules same-sex unions legal," CNN.com. 2004-AUG-5, at: http://edition.cnn.com/
  2. The text of the King County lawsuit, Andersen v. Sims, is at: http://news.findlaw.com/. **

** This is a PDF file. You may require software to read it, Software can be obtained free from: 

Copyright © 2004 to 2009 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2004-SEP-12
Latest update: 2009-JUL-29
Author: B.A. Robinson

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