Opinion

Governor does right by signing gay marriage bill | Editorial

Congratulations to Gov. Chris Gregoire for signing into law the same-sex marriage bill on Monday in Olympia.

While it is scheduled to take effect June 7, the group Preserve Marriage Washington filed Referendum 74 that same afternoon, and if they gather more than 120,577 voter signatures by June 6, the law won’t be official unless voters approve of it in the November election.

On the Northshore front, Sen. Rosemary McAuliffe (D — 1st District, Bothell) recently released a statement in support of marriage equality.

“In the past, I have supported civil unions, domestic partnerships and the efforts of Sen. Ed Murray to stand up for equality for same-sex couples. We as legislators must be vigilant about protecting all of our citizens against discrimination,” McAuliffe said.

“I support marriage equality and have signed my name onto this long overdue legislation to ensure all of our children grow up in a society that truly promotes equality.”

It seems like such a simple thing: letting two people who want to be married be able to do it. Unfortunately, the issue, which rubs some people’s moral core the wrong way, had been allowed to prevent what is an entirely sensible measure.

Three Eastside legislators, Sens. Steve Litzow (R — 41st District, Mercer Island), Rodney Tom (D — 48th District, Bellevue) and Rep. Glenn Anderson (R — 5th District, Fall City) stepped forward to support the legislation. All see clearly the essential issue here: it is a civil right.

Litzow, who considers himself a “big supporter of non-discrimination,” puts it simply, saying “it’s the right thing to do.”

Tom’s take is that “there should be a separation of church and state.” We agree. Sadly, that’s where much of the problem with this right issue lies.

Many religious denominations insist that marriage must be between a man and a woman. However, we’re talking about civil marriage. Since no church would be forced to marry same-sex couples, or be punished if they refuse, their argument clearly is based on their view of morality. (Interestingly, since they feel that marriage is such a core value, we don’t see them lobbying Olympia to make divorce a crime.)

The key here is that denying two males or two females the right to marry denies them equal protection under the law. After all, there is nothing intrinsically different about male-female marriage and same-sex marriage other than pro-creation.

Marriage, civil or religions, as Anderson notes, helps the social order by allowing for an “orderly transfer of property rights for the collective good.” Also, he argues, correctly, that homosexuality, while less frequent than heterosexuality, is a “normal genetic expression of human biology.”

We know that same-sex marriage is controversial and that passage of a law won’t change attitudes overnight. As Anderson correctly observes, “it took almost 100 years from the ratification the 14th Amendment after the American Civil War until the enactment of the Civil Rights Act of the 1960s.”

Church and state are separate in this country. Government can’t tell churches what to believe and churches can’t tell government what to do or not do.

Those who don’t agree with same-sex marriage still have one option – they don’t have to attend the ceremony.

— Craig Groshart, Bellevue Reporter; Andy Nystrom, Bothell-Kenmore Reporter

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