In Our View: Reflections on Historic Week

Milestone developments in Washington drew headlines across the nation



As of the deadline for the writing of this editorial, the world had not ended despite last week’s legalization of same-sex marriage and marijuana use in Washington. But let’s not get overconfident. We still have that Mayan calendar doomsday on Dec. 21 to deal with.And supporters (including The Columbian) of both milestone measures in Washington should remember that thick clouds of confusion surround both issues. For one, there’s that pesky federal government, which seems to disagree with Washingtonians on the matters of same-sex marriage and marijuana use.

While we wait for courts and politicians to sort things out, we present these editorial observations from Washington newspapers about last Thursday’s news, which drew headlines across the nation.

The Olympian (Olympia), Dec. 6 — Gov. Christine Gregoire, who as a Catholic struggled with this issue, credits her two daughters for being instrumental in “getting myself to the right decision.”

Gregoire told The Olympian editorial board [last] week that her daughters reminded her “that’s how I spoke to my mother about race … I would sit there and listen to them say it to me and I thought, wow, listen to the kids … ‘Mom, you understand, this is our civil rights movement of our generation.'” Our governor’s path to marriage equality reflects a common but diminishing generational divide. Survey after survey has shown that young people overwhelmingly accept the normality of same-sex relationships.

Yakima Herald-Republic, Dec. 2 — This isn’t so much a jurisdiction going soft on crime as an opportunity for municipalities to cut their losses, dismiss the misdemeanor (marijuana) cases for soon-to-be legal activities and allow a cash-strapped judicial system to pursue other cases. Voters created this situation, not the authorities who are interpreting it. But we also hope that the talks between state and federal officials eventually offer guidance on these issues, many more of which are bound to emerge.

The Seattle Times, Dec. 5 — Remember: only 10 of Washington’s 39 counties approved same-sex marriage. Lewis County Auditor Gary Zandell says his conservative constituents voted nearly 2-to-1 against Referendum 74, but “it doesn’t matter. We’re one state, with one set of codified laws.”

Zandell says same-sex couples will be welcomed. Such acceptance is something to celebrate.

The Daily News (Longview), Dec. 7 — Oddly enough, the first day of legalized consumption of marijuana in the state of Washington — Dec. 6, 2012 — aligns almost perfectly on the calendar with the last day of a previous grand experiment, prohibition of alcohol, which came to a formal close on Dec. 5, 1933, when Utah became the 36th state to ratify repeal of the Eighteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The News Tribune (Tacoma) — (L)egal marijuana may make perfect sense to a majority of Washingtonians, but they would not be smart to project their own laissez faire attitudes on other regions, on Congress or on the very serious people inside the Beltway. The Obama administration has given only a single clue as to how it might deal with I-502. On Wednesday evening, just as the partiers were rolling their joints under the Space Needle, the U.S. Justice Department office down the street issued a warning: “Regardless of any changes in state law, including the change that will go into effect on Dec. 6 in Washington state, growing, selling or possessing any amount of marijuana remains illegal under federal law.”