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Eye On Olympia

This time, both sides say, it really is for the kids…

Hundreds of people crammed into Seattle Montlake Community Center yesterday to watch the governor sign legislation granting same-sex domestic partners many of the rights of spouses.

The place was crammed with kids. There were strollers, scampering toddlers and a class of fidgeting preschoolers in matching red shirts. Their parents, by and large, were gay and lesbian couples.

Now, the surest way to make a political reporter’s eyes roll is to say that you’re doing something “for the kids.” But in the case of Referendum 71, both sides clearly feel that that’s the case.

Same-sex couples want spouse-style legal protections for their partners and children. With equal passion, foes of the changes say that children do best when raised by a mother and father. Citing religious beliefs, they say they don’t want their children to grow up thinking that being gay or lesbian is acceptable.

Same-sex couples argue that time is their ally, and that the arc of history is bending toward gay and lesbian marriage. Standing in front of a friendly crowd Monday, state Sen. Ed Murray looked into the news cameras and addressed a different audience.

“For those opposed, come meet us and our families,” he said. “We share with you a common love for this state, for this nation, and for their future…Let’s meet, let’s talk. No conditions.”

Some proponents of same-sex marriage argue, in fact, that the public dialogue spawned by the referendum attempt may help their cause. It gives them a chance, they say, to show themselves as loving, committed couples who want the legal protections of marriage for their children and each other.

“This is a unique opportunity to educate the public,” said Josh Friedes, spokesman for Equal Rights Washington. “I think the opponents of gay civil rights may be making a significant error.”


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Richard Roesler covers Washington state news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Olympia.

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