Married to the Word ‘Marriage’

The e-mails I’m not getting make me wonder if all the hubbub really is as simple as being about a single word:

Marriage.

The Washington Secretary of State’s office sent notice that the governor plans to “take action” on Senate Bill 5688 on Monday. The legislation gives same-sex couples registered with the state in a domestic partnership every legal right and responsibility married couples have, except for one. They can’t call it “marriage.” That’s why the bill was called “everything but marriage.”

I have signed up for e-mail alerts from those for and against same-sex marriage. Last week I received notices about efforts in Washington, D.C., New Hampshire and Maine, in addition to a hotel boycott in California and the reaction to the beauty pageant contestant who said in her country marriage is between a man and a woman, no offense.

This was during the week when opponents of same-sex marriage filed a referendum against the “everything but marriage” law the Washington Legislature approved. There has been nothing so far. In fact, there are those who would normally be against same-sex unions who are choosing to not participate in this battle.

Here’s the fifth reason why, from Pastor Joe Fuiten:

” . . . if we make a referendum effort and fail, the other side will conclude the public is with them on this issue. That will embolden the other side to take the final step of marriage in the next session. I think we can win on the marriage issue but if we deplete our capital of money and goodwill in a failed referendum, we will not have the strength to win the marriage battle.”

There is some friendly pushback against that argument from Larry Stickney from the Washington Values Alliance:

“A Referendum to roll back SB 5688 (which grants full spousal rights for homosexual couples in everything but the name) will keep the law from going into effect and put the measure in front of the voters in November. If we wait, the new law goes into effect in June and the Defense of Marriage Act will be challenged in the courts and likely overturned this same time next year. We have no time to waste, we have no other recourse, they are inside the wire . . .”

In other comments the reason the Defense of Marriage Act would be challenged would be because in Washington we would be recognizing relationships that look like marriage. So legally what would be the point of not calling it by that name? Perhaps the key here is that it would be challenged in the courts, not by crafting new laws in the Legislature or by voter initiative.

What is now being referred to as Referendum 71 will not become official until the governor signs the bill as is. If she vetoes any part of it, there would need to be a new filing.

We did get a press release from the local Catholics in the announcement that the Knights of Columbus Bremerton Council endorsed the referendum. Maybe I’m jumping the gun by interpreting the early quiet as disinterest. Perhaps the governor’s signing will mark the launch of a half-year debate on the state’s recognition of committed relationships between people of the same sex.

For now, though, it feels like as long as you don’t call it marriage, you’re not going to get much opposition.

4 thoughts on “Married to the Word ‘Marriage’

  1. Please, marriage long ago meant women were basically transferred from ownership from their father to their husband. They were property, that was the original meaning of marriage. No church will be forced to marry anyone, just like when I got married 23 years ago, but I could not get married in the Catholic Church because my husband had already been married. These folks are on the wrong side of history, but it isn’t surprising is it, I believe these same churches also felt black and white people should not marry, or Natives and White people. We should never ever take out cues from them.

  2. Why aren’t pet ‘adoptions’ legally considered the same as human adoptions and given the same rights and privileges?

    Why is it okay to leave pets behind when the ‘parents’ leave town, but not okay to leave the human children behind? Some folks actually prefer to keep the well behaved pets.

    Pets deserve the same rights and considerations as the human children in a family and should have the same legal rights as the human children.

    A marriage and a family consist of who and what and why?

    Funny thing. I know same sex couples living together and having a good life.

    One or two I know contribute nothing to their neighborhood or community. Their issues are forcing people to look at them as a homosexual entity – they’re not very interesting.

    Others are a firm thread in the fabric of community.
    Are they homosexual? I don’t know or care.
    I know them as interesting people and admire their volunteer spirit. Seperatly and together they make a difference in their communities.

    They don’t tout their sexuality as a door prize or in your face belligerent dare to care what drives them sexually.

    They are honored and cherished by their neighbors for what they do for their communities – nothing to do with being homosexual or not..
    Sharon O’Hara

  3. Government should get out of the “marriage” business altogether. Marriage is a religious term that government adopted as legal terminology. Government should issue a Civil Union contract only, which enables all legal rights and responsibilities for all couples as does a present day “marriage” license.

    Then, if a couple desires to be “married” they can be married by their respective church. If their church’s belief refuses to recognize their union as a “holy marriage”, then it’s time to find a new church that does.

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