The Issaquah Press: Vote to approve same-sex marriage

Referendum 74 offers Washington voters a historic chance to expand civil rights to same-sex couples.

In February, after receiving crucial support from local lawmakers in the state House of Representatives and state Senate, Gov. Chris Gregoire signed landmark legislation to legalize same-sex marriage. Opponents petitioned to put the measure before voters on the November ballot.

Washington already affords rights to same-sex couples, but the existing law is incomplete. Marriage is a basic civil right.

In 2009, voters approved Referendum 71, or the state’s “everything-but-marriage” law, to expand domestic partnership rights. Both sides in the R-74 campaign realize marriage — both the institution and the word — is the key piece missing from existing state law.

R-74 offers voters the chance to take the next step, and extend marriage rights to same-sex couples. The measure, simply put, is about equality.

The flimsy arguments against R-74 do not hold up against the facts.

The measure could limit religious freedom, opponents assert. In fact, the law contains ample protections for religious institutions, and no religious institution is required to marry same-sex couples.

Opponents claim same-sex marriage is certain to damage the sanctity of marriage. If R-74 critics want to preserve marriage, perhaps they should target divorce laws rather than a measure to expand the right to marry.

Voters should affirm equality for same-sex couples and approve R-74.