Walla Walla Union Bulletin: Voters should affirm gay marriage law


Approving Referendum 74 would allow gays to continue to obtain state civil marriage licenses. It does not force churces to perform gay marriage.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

We have consistently taken strong stands in favor of gay rights and, specifically, efforts to ensure homosexuals are not discriminated against. We have also been advocates for committed same-sex couples to have the same legal protections and benefits of committed heterosexual couples.

More than five years ago Washington lawmakers approved domestic partnerships, which essentially granted same-sex couples (and heterosexual couples when one person is over age 62) rights identical to married couples.

We felt this everything-but-the-word-marriage approach was good enough. We balked at endorsing state-sanctioned gay marriage.

Our view changed as the Legislature seriously debated the issue in Olympia. As the debate unfolded, we came to realize the time was right to allow marriage of gays.

Domestic partnership was falling short. The language used does matter. Calling gay relationships domestic partnerships gives the impression the couple isn’t as committed to each other as married couples would be.

A committed, long-term legal relationship is a marriage regardless of what you call it.

The proposal approved by the Legislature does not force churches or clergy to perform gay marriages. Churches, clergy or religious organizations do not have to accept or even acknowledge these marriages.

The law in Washington allows gays to obtain state civil marriage licenses that make their relationship legally binding. Period.

Washington is the seventh state to approve gay marriage. It is also legal in Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and Vermont.

More states will follow. American society has become increasingly accepting of homosexuality and gay marriage.

Still, many remain staunchly opposed on religious or moral grounds.

As a result, a referendum has been put on the Nov. 6 ballot asking voters to approve or reject the Legislature’s decision.

We urge voters to affirm the Legislature’s decision to legalize gay marriage and approve Referendum 74.