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Efforts to legalize same-sex marriage (SSM) in Washington State:

2012-JAN: Senator Jim Kastama (D) will vote
for bill. Six companies support bill. Opposition.

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This topic is a continuation from the previous essay ....

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2012-JAN-19: Senator Jim Kastama (D) commits to voting for the SSM bill:

At a press conference, Senator Kastama issued a statement saying:

"In my two terms as a State Representative and three as a State Senator, I have defended the institution of marriage and family. The reason I got into politics in the first place was to advocate for upstanding divorced fathers disenfranchised by the state with less than equal child visitation time.

As the economy struggles, deficits rise, and revenues fall, whether we like it or not our federal and state government programs will shrink. Marriage, a source of personal support and financial security for many, will become the true safety net. The state has a responsibility to strengthen marriage to prepare for this economic and societal reality.

As our world has changed, so have our relationships. We are a very different people than we were in the 1950's or during my childhood. To strengthen marriage as a valued institution it must evolve to meet the demands of today's couples. In 2012, I believe we have reached the point where society is ready to recognize and support same-sex couples who seek the bonds, benefits and security of marriage. They too, deserve this 'safety net.'

My colleagues have informed me that I am one of the last votes needed to pass marriage equality legislation in the Senate. In the interest of gay and lesbian couples in my district and across our state I will vote 'yes' on the marriage equality legislation before us this session.

I believe we need to pass this legislation without a ballot amendment. This is not my first tough vote. It will not be my last.

This decision is a deeply personal one. Unlike some of my colleagues in liberal districts, I will not return home to cheers and handshakes. I represent the district I was raised in. My wife and I purchased and live in the same house I grew up in and we have raised our family there. My district has known me my whole life and for 16 years has entrusted me to be a fiercely independent legislator. The people of my district are generous and decent, but I also know that there are childhood friends who will never forgive me for this vote.

This is one of the most controversial issues of the past several decades. However, for many of my colleagues voting for this bill is not controversial at all. There is no risk to them, they are safe to tote the party line from safe seats. To their constituents, this vote will be viewed as a triumph of leadership and a marker of courage. And sadly, some will use this vote to overshadow a record of special interest indebtedness that has failed this state.

When one sponsor of this legislation was asked why he would not support Charter Schools, he said it was because it was too controversial. I've heard the same reasons given for why we can't restructure government or correct a budget that predictably leads to a deficit every single year. In our toxic political climate, the vulnerable are held hostage to tax increases, students are held hostage to the infighting of adults, and everyone is held hostage to exploding healthcare costs and mounting deficits. Gays and lesbians are not the only people calling for controversial reforms. Everyone is. If controversy is the cost of tackling important issues, then I say bring on the controversy. Make controversy the hallmark of this session. If we can address this difficult issue, then we have no excuse for not addressing other difficult challenges. ..." 1

Only one more Senator is needed to support the bill in order to pass it.

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2012-JAN-20: Six large companies support SSM bills:

Six large companies in Washington State -- Concur, Group Health Corp, Microsoft, Nike, RealNetworks, and Vulcan -- endorsed the same-sex marriage legislation: Senate Bill 6239 and House Bill 2516.

Microsoft wrote a letter to Governor Chris Gregoire stating:

"We write you today to show the support of our respective companies for SB 6239 and HB 2516 recognizing marriage equality for same-sex couples."

Brad Smith, vice president of legal and corporate affairs at Microsoft said:

"As other states recognize marriage equality, Washington's employers are at a disadvantage if we cannot offer a similar, inclusive environment to our talented employees, our top recruits, and their families. Employers in the technology sector face an unprecedented national and global competition for top talent. ... Like the New York bill, we believe Washington's legislation should be passed into law. It will make our state and our economy stronger." 2

According to CNN, "some estimate nearly $400 million in [additional] revenues for ... [New York] state over the next three years" as a result of their SSM law. More details.

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Hearings scheduled for 2012-JAN-23:

The Senate bill will have its first public hearing  on JAN-23 from 10 AM to  PM; the House bill in the afternoon. This will be the first time that hearings will be held on a Washington state SSM bill.

Sen. Ed Murray (D) is sponsoring the SSM marriage bill S 6239 in the Senate. He said:

"The culture changes and the politics follows. The most political act that changed the culture wasn't in Olympia [WA, the capital], it wasn't me. It was people coming out to their families, to their workplace. That's what's changed people's minds." 4

Rep. Jamie Pedersen (D) is sponsoring the SSM marriage bill H2516 in the House.  He said:

"This change is inevitable. It's just a question of how long the families of same-sex families are going to have to wait for ... justice to be done." 4

If the bill is passed in its present form and signed into law, same-sex couples could marry in 2012-JUN. Couples in domestic partnerships would have two years to either dissolve their civil partnership, or get married, or do nothing. In the latter case, their partnerships would automatically become marriages on 2014-JUN-30. However, domestic partnerships in which one or both partners are over 62 years or older would remain in place. The law would have a religious freedom to discriminate clause that would allow conservative faith groups to refuse to marry loving, committed same-sex couples with impunity. Meanwhile, liberal and progressive faith groups would be given the freedom that they have long sought to be allowed to marry same-sex couples.

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More opposition to the SSM bills:

Joseph Backholm is the executive director of The Family Policy Institute of Washington, a group that opposes marriage equality. Their belief statement on the sanctity of marriage states:

"The Family Policy Institute of Washington believes marriage is the most significant relationship in existence. We believe life-long, heterosexual, monogamous marriages provide unique benefits to children and society that cannot be matched by any other relationship. As a result, we believe marriage should always be defined as a union of one man and one woman and that marriage should be promoted and preferred above other relationships while recognizing the right of individuals to live freely outside the institution of marriage." 5

They support an amendment to the Constitution of Washington State that would deny all same-sex couples access to marriage. They support measures that encourage marriage -- but only by opposite-sex couples -- and measures that make divorce less frequent. They oppose hate crime laws that give longer sentences to criminals who commit assault motivated by hatred of their victim's gender, disability, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, or some other factor that is included in the law. 6

He said that the debate over SSM "really does go to the core of who we are, and what matters in the big picture. ... 4 He wrote in an email:

"... if we determine that the purpose of marriage is to validate the love of those involved in a relationship, that very quickly takes us places no one wants to go.  There are many relationships in which people love each other but the government does not say they are married.  If we redefine marriage because 'our love is the same' you establish a rule that cannot be applied equitably and make arbitrary and capricious law.

Some people are in love with people other than their spouse, some people are in love with relatives, and some people are in love with 14 year olds."

In mid January. the National Organization for Marriage -- and organization whose main function is to deny same-sex couples access to marriage -- appears to have admitted defeat in its attempts to persuade voters in Washington to oppose SSM. They have announced that if any Republican legislator follows the majority of Washington voters and votes in favor of the SSM bill, NOM will give a cash grant to any person who runs against the legislator in the next primary. They have $250,000 available to fund this opposition.

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This topic continues in the next essay ....

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References used in this essay:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Jerry Cornfield, "Kastama signals support for gay marriage bill," The Petri Dish, 2012-JAN-19, at: http://heraldnet.com/
  2. Chenda Ngak, "Microsoft calls for same-sex marriage in Washington State," CBS News, Techtalk, 2012-JAN-20, at: http://www.cbsnews.com/
  3. Bob Witeck, "NY marriage equality is good for business," CNN, 2011-JUL-23, at: http://articles.cnn.com/
  4. Rachel La Corte, "Washington State Gay Marriage Bills Gaining Traction," Huffington Post, 2012-JAN-21, at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com
  5. "Sanctity of Marriage," Family Policy Institute of Washington, undated, at: http://www.fpiw.org/
  6. "Religious freedom," Family Policy Institute of Washington, undated, at: http://www.fpiw.org/

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Copyright © 2012 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Original posting: 2012-JAN-20
Latest update: 2012-JAN-22
Author: B.A. Robinson

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