In Our View: Landmark legislation

Gay marriage approval in Washington could boost momentum in other states

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The Columbian’s support for legalizing gay marriage extends as far back as 2004, when we opined in an editorial: “We bet that in 20 years’ time, not only will all states recognize same-sex marriages, given constitutional demands for equal rights, but that people will marvel over today’s conversations and the arguments being made against such a policy.”We also addressed safeguards that must be built into any new law: “In fact, government officials and agencies and we hope neighbors and co-workers, educators and employers will respect people’s different beliefs about what this anchor relationship in society should be. … People must feel free to raise their children with their own personal views. Churches should also not be condemned for upholding their biblical interpretations on marriage if they decline to be involved in same-sex marriage ceremonies.” The law that has passed the Legislature and is headed to the governor for signature includes these safeguards. Her signature is assured, and a long legal battle likely will ensue.

Regardless, the process unfolds as designed, and the fact that it has been too slow to suit some and too rapid for others indicates the process is balanced and reasonable.

Today we offer a different approach to the subject of gay marriage and present glimpses of recent editorial views from other major daily newspapers around the state:

The Seattle Times -- Unfortunately, the most likely next step after the governor signs the bill is a citizens’ referendum, which depends on signature-gatherers collecting nearly 121,000 valid signatures by early June. If successful, the question would be before voters in November. … Putting a referendum on the law is tantamount to asking the majority to rule on the civil rights of minorities -- almost always a lousy idea.

The News Tribune, Tacoma -- While allowing gays to enter into domestic partnerships -- “everything but marriage” -- was a welcome step forward in this state in 2009, it is still not the same right enjoyed by heterosexuals. It is separate, and not equal. … The American public is increasingly open toward same-sex marriage. (Same-sex marriage) has not created havoc in states where it is already allowed. Ten countries now allow it, including Canada, Spain, Norway, Sweden and Argentina. Gays may now serve openly in one of the nation’s most conservative workplaces: the military.

The Spokesman-Review, Spokane -- Gay couples … shouldn’t have to accept the current “separate but equal” arrangement, which conjures previous iterations of shameful discrimination. (Gov. Chris) Gregoire … won’t have to face voters again because she isn’t seeking re-election. However, she’s also foreclosing some opportunities for federal jobs, because her gay-marriage stance would make it nearly impossible for her to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

The Herald, Everett -- Well-organized, out-of-state forces already are pledging to help put a referendum to repeal same-sex marriage on the ballot. National organizations supporting same-sex marriage will undoubtedly land here, too. For all of them, a word of advice: Keep the temperature in check. In Washington, overheated TV ads could hurt your case more than help it.

The Olympian, Olympia -- Our fear at this point is that the contentious marriage debate will distract lawmakers who have only 60 days to balance a state operating budget that’s $1.5 billion out of alignment. That must be the top priority.