The Legislature passed Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill 6239 concerning marriage for same-sex couples, modified domestic-partnership law, and religious freedom, and voters have filed a sufficient referendum petition on this bill.
This bill would allow same-sex couples to marry, preserve domestic partnerships only for seniors, and preserve the right of clergy or religious organizations to refuse to perform, recognize, or accommodate any marriage ceremony.
Should this bill be:
This year the Legislature passed a bill to redefine marriage by allowing same-sex marriage. Thanks to the signatures of nearly 250,000 Washingtonians, Referendum 74 is on the ballot. The Preserve Marriage Washington campaign urges voters NOT to redefine marriage, and to mark "reject" for three reasons.
First, same-sex couples in Washington already have full legal equality. Second, marriage is more than recognizing the relationships of adults. It's also about what's best for children. Third, we must mark "reject" because of the profound consequences that our society will face if marriage is redefined.
In 2009, voters approved the "Everything but Marriage" law. That means a same-sex couple in Washington already has every legal right and obligation in Washington that an opposite-sex couple has. While Referendum 74 will not grant same-sex couples any new legal benefits, it will redefine marriage for everyone.
Children do best when raised by their married mom and dad. By making marriage genderless, the Legislature belittles the unique roles of moms and dads. Marriage is the only institution that not only unites a man and a woman with one another, but also with any children born to them. Children have a right to know and be cared for by their mom and dad. Stripping marriage of its male and female qualities will shift marriage from an institution that binds children to their parents to an arrangement focused on the personal desires of adults.
Finally, there will be profound consequences for anyone who disagrees with this new definition of marriage. A common myth is that somehow same-sex marriage will coexist in the law alongside traditional marriage. But the truth is, when marriage is redefined it becomes the sole definition of marriage for everyone. Everyone in Washington must succumb to the new definition or face potential consequences.
Recently, mayor of Washington, D.C., Vincent Gray, said in reference to supporters of traditional marriage that "there just is no place for them in this city." The District of Columbia has redefined marriage and imposed same-sex marriage there. Gray's statement shows how our liberties are at stake when marriage is redefined.
In states that have redefined marriage, there have been consequences for those who support traditional marriage. For example, religious groups like Catholic Charities in Boston and Washington, D.C. had to choose between fulfilling their social mission based on their religious beliefs or accepting this new definition of marriage. As a result they had to close their adoption programs.
Redefining marriage also influences education and the rights of parents to direct their children's upbringing. Whenever schools educate children about marriage, they have no realistic choice but to teach this new genderless institution. Remember, this new definition of marriage replaces traditional marriage. In Massachusetts, kids as young as second grade have been taught about homosexual marriage. The courts have ruled that parents had no right to prior notice or to opt their children out of such instruction.
When marriage is redefined, business owners also face consequences. An innkeeper in Vermont has been fined over $30,000 because of refusal to make facilities available for a same-sex wedding reception. Doctors, lawyers, accountants, and other professionals risk their state licensures for acting in concert with their beliefs. When we reject Referendum 74, we are rejecting this kind of intolerance. Our children and grandchildren are depending on us to protect their freedom and their future.
Greg Noelck of Vancouver is a physical therapist and serves in the volunteer position of Clark County regional director of Preserve Marriage Washington (http://www.preservemarriagewashington.com).