Community & Editorial
Yes on R-74 is a vote for marriage equality
tate lawmakers have already made same-sex marriage legal by enacting the Washington State Marriage Equality Act on Feb. 13. It now awaits approval by ballot, which you can secure by voting “yes” on Referendum-74.
That’s right: Vote for approval of R-74. It’s all you have to do to allow state marriage equality.
R-74 was originally launched to circumvent Washington legislators and erase the years of negotiations that led to the Marriage Equality law.
However, R-74 gives voters the chance to approve legal marriage and allow same-sex partners to protect their families.
Legal marriage helps keep families healthy, productive and less reliant on government services. It also fulfills United States and Washington state constitutional promises for equality and justice.
Because there is a social support component to marriage, the denial of access could be considered anti-social. And because of union’s spiritual component, denying marriage could constitute religious discrimination.
Legal marriage defined
In the u.s., legal marriage is controlled by states, which cannot dictate religious ritual. No religious body — or radical right-wing group, for that matter — has the constitutional or ethical right to dictate which adult may, or may not, have a civil marriage.
Governments offering marriage
For many years, same-sex marriage has been legal in Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, South Africa and Sweden.
In the u.s., it is legal in Connecticut, District of Columbia, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and Vermont. Also, same-sex marriages are legal within the Suquamish Tribe.
Domestic partnerships and civil unions are no substitute for marriage equality. They create a second-class status that is legally unsound and socially restrictive. The federal system does not recognize registrations when considering taxation, Social Security benefits or any of the 1,138 marriage-related federal laws. Further, registrations are a patchwork of easily-contested laws meant to simulate legal marriage, but not the real deal.
The movement has broad support. On the corporate side, there is Microsoft, Concur, Group Health, Nike, RealNetworks and Vulcan Inc.
Cultural and personal support comes from University of Virginia professor and former naacp chairman Julian Bond, Sharon J. Lettman-Hicks, National Black Justice Coalition, the League of United Latin American Citizens and former president Bill Clinton.
President Barack Obama issued a “Presidential Proclamation: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month, 2012,” making the moral imperative clear: “Because we must treat others the way we want to be treated, I personally believe in marriage equality for same-sex couples.”
Gov. Chris Gregoire, after authorizing the state’s Marriage Equality Act, wrote: “We cannot say to one couple that their love is deserving of marriage and to another that their love should only be called a partnership. ‘Separate but equal’ is never equal. Children of same-sex couples should not grow up wondering why their family is treated differently from other families.”
Religious groups are also on board, including the United Church of Christ; the Episcopal Church; the local University Baptist Church; and the Northwest Washington Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
While Catholic churches were instructed to collect signatures for R-74 by the bishops of the Archdiocese of Seattle, as well as vote against it, many churches refused to have signature gatherers on their premises. In Seattle, Our Lady of the Lake, St. James Cathedral, St. Joseph, St. Mary’s Parish, St. Patrick and Christ Our Hope said no. So did St. Leo Parish in Tacoma.
Denying legal marriage creates significant economic losses. As many as 14 million American children are being raised in gay and lesbian households, which need the stability of custody by both partners. These families are not benefiting from the economic rights marriage equality provides.
A few of the critical marriage protections: automatic inheritance and property tax exemption, automatic medical power of attorney, burial determination, child custody and visitation, domestic violence protection (most cities won’t cover same-sex couples) and hospital visitation.
Instead of using the well-understood divorce process to deal with financial entanglements, child custody and support, unmarried couples often must go to more expensive civil courts.
As Obama and other notable persons have suggested, treat others as you would have them treat you. Please consider approving R-74 – marriage equality for same-sex couples.
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