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Gay marriage hearing fills chambers

Supporters of gay marriage gather outside Spokane City Council chambers Monday to urge the City Council to adopt a resolution supporting gay marriage. (Jesse Tinsley)
Supporters of gay marriage gather outside Spokane City Council chambers Monday to urge the City Council to adopt a resolution supporting gay marriage. (Jesse Tinsley)

Sides square off on proposed City Council resolution

Spokane City Council chambers overflowed Monday as scores of people showed up to debate the state’s new gay marriage law.

About 300 people turned out to Monday’s meeting, an overflow crowd not seen at a council meeting in years.

City Councilman Jon Snyder proposed the nonbinding resolution in support of the state’s gay marriage law, which was approved earlier this year. Opponents are collecting signatures in an effort to reverse the law by putting it to a statewide vote on the November ballot.

About 70 people had testified by around 10 p.m., when City Council President Ben Stuckart announced everyone who signed up had spoken. He asked if anyone else wanted to speak and a couple dozen raised their hands, extending testimony late into the night.

Early testimony was dominated by opponents of gay marriage. Later testimony tilted heavily in support.

Terri Pfister, who has served as the city clerk for 15 years, said she couldn’t remember such a packed house.

Supporters said allowing gay marriage is about extending equal rights and justice and that gays and lesbians should be allowed to marry the person they love in the same institution as heterosexuals.

Among those who testified was Margaret Witt, the Air Force officer who successfully challenged the U.S. military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

Alli Kingfisher said that although the state provides domestic partnerships, the language and privileges of marriage are important. She said she is tired of using “partner” to describe the woman she’s committed to.

“Saying ‘I do’ in front of all of my family, all of my friends, it is so, so important.”

Opponents warned that God may curse Spokane for supporting gay marriage, that family structures break down without both biological parents raising children and that homosexuality is linked to communism and anarchy. Some warned about anal and oral sex.

Opponents often stressed Biblical teachings. Marriage, they said, should only involve relationships with men and women.

“It’s instituted by God,” said Rick Layton. “It’s defined by God. It’s very clear what his stance is on it.”



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