Saturday, October 27, 2012

Approve R-74, Same Sex Marriage

With less than two weeks before my ballot has to be back in the government's hands, I'm filling it out bit by bit. So far I've voted yes on both I-1185 and I-1240.

R-74, Same Sex Marriage

The Issue: R-74 is a referendum on Senate Bill 6239, which extended the legal term "marriage" to include relationships previously included only under the term "domestic partnership" and restricted the term "domestic partnership" so that it would not overlap the term "marriage." SB-6239 also granted special immunities to clergy and religious organizations to preserve their right to not perform or recognize any particular marriage.

SB-6239 was signed into law by Governor Gregoire in February of this year. Opponents gathered enough petition signatures to require a referendum; that referendum is R-74. Approval means the law will be enacted; rejection means it will not be enacted. The pro-approval website is here; the pro-rejection website is here.

My Position: Whether or not to marry and who we marry if we do is one of the most deeply personal choices we can make, and the government has no place in it. Unfortunately, that option isn't on the table.

Current law in Washington has already established same-sex "domestic partnerships" which are legally equivalent to marriage in all but name. R-74 is not about relationships or love or God's will or anything else its supporters and detractors claim. Everything that could happen under R-74 would also happen without it. R-74 is a very narrow question that is entirely linguistic: Should the legal term "marriage" also refer to what are now same-sex domestic partnerships?

Twice now, I've deliberately referred to "marriage" as a legal term, because in this instance, that is all that it is. State law cannot change the popular meaning of a word, only its use in legal terminology. I don't care one way or the other about legal terminology. A rose by any other name...

However, R-74 also grants special protections to religious organizations to preserve their right to not perform or recognize same-sex marriages. This provision gets closer to my ideal marriage policy than any other proposal I've ever seen-- You should be free to marry whoever you want, and I should be free to acknowledge or ignore it however I want. I would prefer if these protections were granted to everyone, not just religious organizations. Even so, R-74 enshrines the right to disagree, and this, I think, is a very important first step towards my ideal.

I will be voting APPROVE on R-74.

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