January 10, 2012
Governor’s bold move is good for all
We applaud Gov. Chris Gregoire’s move to pass state legislation that would allow same-sex marriage in Washington state.
It has been nearly 20 years since the Hawaii Supreme Court ruled that the restriction of marriage to opposite-sex couples would be presumed unconstitutional. In 1999, the Vermont Supreme Court held that same-sex couples must receive the same benefits as married couples. Subsequent court decisions have held that “civil union” laws would not suffice, calling instead for marriage equality.
Many countries — including all of the Canadian provinces — now allow gay marriage. In the United States, six states and the District of Columbia now accept gay marriages.
In 2009, the Washington Legislature approved a bill granting domestic partners the same rights as married couples, so long as those rights did not conflict with federal law. Voters approved the measure in a referendum later in the year.
The time is right to put the gay marriage law on the table. It will already be at the forefront as a topic of the presidential race. Washington will further the discussion as Gregoire’s bill is debated in the Legislature. While there is no guarantee the bill will pass, we believe it is a natural next step — from equality in benefits to a legitimate view in the eyes of the law.
While many citizens do believe the sanctity of marriage should be limited by law to the union of a man and woman, we also believe the populous has become more accepting of same-sex partnerships. What real difference does it make to anyone outside of the marriage partners whether or not the marriage is legitimized through state law?
We understand that there will be churches that will not accept a same-sex marriage, no matter what the law says. Religion comes with the freedom of belief. Church leaders should be able to choose whether or not to perform a same-sex marriage. That is their right.
Even if the governor’s bill is passed, we expect it will be challenged. It’s healthy discussion that will eventually get us where we want to be — an accepting community that welcomes diversity.