Posts tagged: same-sex marriage
People trying to overturn a new law giving expanded rights to same-sex domestic partners have filed an 11th-hour appeal of the proposed ballot language.
The move sets their own signature-gathering effort back at least a week, but seems aimed at boosting their odds by trying to make voters see domestic partnerships as virtually identical to marriage.
Shortly before the 5 p.m. deadline today, Arlington’s Larry Stickney filed an appeal with the Thurston County Superior Court. He wants a judge to re-word the description and ballot summary of Referendum 71.
Here’s the summary language originally proposed by the Attorney General’s office (the bold-facing is mine, to highlight the differences):
Same-sex couples, or any couple that includes one person age sixty-two or older, may register as a domestic partnership with the state. Registered domestic partnerships are not marriages, and marriage is prohibited except between one man and one woman. This bill would expand the rights, responsibilities, and obligations of registered domestic partners and their families to include all rights, responsibilities, and obligations granted by or imposed by state law on married couples and their families.
Here’s what Stickney proposes instead:
This bill would expand the rights, responsibilities and obligations of registered domestic partners to be equal to the rights, responsibilities and obligations granted by or imposed by state law on married couples, except that domestic partnerships will not be called marriages.
Similarly, here’s the original description wording proposed by the AG:
“Concise Description: This bill would expand the rights, responsibilities, and obligations accorded state-registered same-sex and senior domestic partners to be equivalent to those of married spouses, except that a domestic partnership is not a marriage.”
And here’s how Stickney would like it to read:
“Concise Statement: This bill would expand the rights, responsibilities and obligations of state-registered same-sex and senior domestic partnerships, to be equal to the rights, responsibilities and obligations of married couples, except that domestic partnerships will not be called marriages.”
The point, clearly, is to suggest that domestic partnerships are now essentially the same thing as marriage. That’s what critics of the new law have been saying — and proponents have been denying — for months. In fact, state Sen. Ed Murray, one of several openly gay lawmakers and the sponsor of the bill, has repeatedly called the legislation the “everything but marriage” bill.
According to Brian Zylstra, spokesman for the Secretary of State’s office, the case has been assigned to Judge Thomas McPhee, but no date’s yet been set. (Case number: 09-2-01278-1)
The court typically handles such cases as part of its Friday motion calendar, meaning that the earliest date would be May 29. The Secretary of State’s office says that June 5 or June 12 is probably more likely.
If it’s the latter date, Stickney and affiliated church groups and social conservatives would have just six weeks to print and circulate petitions. To get R-71 on the November ballot for a statewide vote, they need at least 120,577 voter signatures by July 25th.
California’s supreme court has upheld Proposition 8, the state’s voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage. The ruling, however, allows thousands of same-sex marriages performed prior to the ban.
California’s experience has been closely watched in Washington, where gay marriage opponents have filed a referendum to undo a state law granting domestic partners most of the rights and responsibilities of spouses.
In interviews, foes of same-sex marriage cite Prop. 8 as evidence that voters, if given the chance, will reject it. (In Washington, the picture’s a little less clear, since the law targeted by the referendum stops short of full marriage.)
On the other side of the issue, some gay marriage proponents see California as an argument for a more incremental approach to winning the right to marry.
“If the brief back-and-forth history of marriage equality in California teaches us anything, it’s that progress must occur with public involvement and input, one step at a time,” said Washington state Sen. Ed Murray, D-Seattle, one of several openly gay lawmakers in Olympia.
“…In Washington, we remain dedicated to continuing our conversation with the public and steadily building upon our domestic partnership progress,” he said. “I’m confident that Washington state will soon be ready to accept — once and for all — full marriage equality for all.”
Opponents of the state’s new “everything but marriage” law for same-sex domestic partners rushed to Olympia last week to file Referendum 71. The clock is ticking, and they only have until July 25th to gather 120,577 valid voter signatures. Assuming a cushion of about 25 percent for duplicate signatures, Mickey Mouses, people not registered to vote, etc., they’ll probably need about 150,000.
Today, however, Attorney General Rob McKenna’s office has said that the ballot title and summary won’t be issued until Gov. Chris Gregoire signs the bill into law. Since Gregoire doesn’t plan to sign the bill until Monday, that means another week lost before Referendum 71 filers can start printing up petitions.
(It also means, however, that the Refendum 71 folks won’t face the risk of spending thousands of dollars printing up petitions, only to see them all rendered moot if Gregoire vetoes some section of the bill.)
“We have begun our work in drafting a title and summary for this measure, but the bill in question has not yet been enacted, as it has not been approved by the Governor as required by the constitution,” deputy solicitor general Jim Pharris wrote today to Secretary of State Sam Reed, the state’s chief elections officer.
Gregoire can also veto parts of the bill. If she does that, Referendum 71 organizers would have to re-file the measure.
Conservative religious groups are preparing a voter referendum to overturn a bill granting same-sex partners most of the rights and responsibilities of spouses.
Senate Bill 5688 passed the legislature yesterday and is headed to Gov. Chris Gregoire, who is expected to sign it into law.
Proponents say it’s a simple matter of fairness, that same-sex couples and their children deserve the same sort of protections and rights that married couples have. Opponents argue that the bill, after a trip through court, will lead to same-sex marriage.
This afternoon, Faith & Freedom’s Gary Randall emailed a note to supporters:
While the lawmakers were voting in favor of homosexual marriage in the Capitol, I and several other leaders in the faith community were meeting a few blocks away, finalizing details before filing a referendum to overturn this legislation.
…Their next step will be an easy one them. Litigate, correctly claiming there is no legal difference, then claim discrimination and it’s a done deal.
They will have successfully done an end-run on the State Supreme Court ruling which upheld DOMA and will have dismantled the Defense of Marriage Act.
If same-sex marriage becomes reality in Washington (as it has in four other states), he argues, Washington “will become a national attraction for homosexuals” from other states and countries.
More from the e-mail:
We know we will be outspent probably 6 to 1 or more on this referendum campaign, however we are equally confident, people of faith and conservatives will do all they can do to help us.
Proponents of the bill have repeatedly said they expect a referendum, and are prepared to take the debate to the public.
Rather than try to shoehorn my lengthy print story into a blog post, here are some quotes from yesterday’s standing-room-only hearings on the “everything but marriage” law for state-registered domestic partners in Washington.
“You may not consider my family a family, but I know in my heart that they are. So will you please pass this bill, so that everyone can know that this is my family?”
-Benjamin, the 10-year-old son of one Seattle lesbian couple
“Genuine marriage has provided for the foundation of healthy and harmonious family living for civilized societies for centuries. It does not exist just for the emotional satisfaction, affirmation or validation of individuals, but for the greater good of the social order.”
-Larry Stickney, with the Washington Values Alliance
“When our kids now ask us if we’re married, we say, ‘Not in the eyes of the law, but yes, we are married in our hearts.’”
-Amie Bishop, a social worker and mother of Benjamin.
“It was said that (same-sex marriages briefly performed in Oregon) never existed. It was a devastating and humiliating experience. All of sudden, we felt totally negated, and that we and our relationship did not exist and there was no protection for us.”
-retired National Guard Col. Grethe Cammermeyer.
“They should be satisfied withthe status quo. Enough is enough.”
-a grandmother whose name I didn’t get.
“I say this respectfully, but there’s going to come a time when we’re all going to have to stand before the judgment seat of Christ to give an account for things done in the flesh.”
-Roy Hartwell, pastor of a church near Olympia.
“We’re here, we’re coming, we’re voting…We’re voting in your districts … We’re voting for this.”
-David Iseminger of Seattle.
“We vote as well…We will be back.”
-Gary Randall, with the Faith and Freedom Network
(For more context on the quotes, click on the story link above.)