A Step Toward Gay Marriage in Washington

Per an article in the Seattle Times the Washington State Senate has passed “Senate Bill 6239 [which] defines marriage as between two persons, rather than between a male and a female.” The bill still has to pass the House, which isn’t expected to be difficult.

I’m not celebrating yet. The bigots are lining up to push through a referendum, so we’ll probably be voting on this in November. Like California, Washington has a focused, attention-getting liberal area centered on Seattle and the Puget Sound area, but much of the state, particularly east of the Cascades, is very rural and very conservative. And I’m sure the Mormon Church is getting ready to send money by the truckload for the No-Gay-Marriage campaign, just like they did in California.

Unlike California, Washington won’t let gay couples marry until it’s clear whether or not there’ll be a referendum. “Under state law, opponents have 90 days from the end of the session to collect 120,577 signatures to put a referendum on the ballot. The regular session ends March 8.” If the referendum doesn’t make the ballot, gay couples could start marrying in June. If it does, they have to wait until the results of the November election.

I’m hoping, but I’m not sure or even terribly confident about what’s going to happen. Or rather, I’m sure the bill will pass the house, but I’m also pretty sure the bad guys will get the referendum on the ballot, and I’m not betting on what’ll happen in November.

Bigots are howling that it should be up to the vote of the people, but they don’t seem to remember that segregation wasn’t voted down in the South, and the legal bans on mixed race marriage weren’t voted down either. Or maybe they do, and that’s the problem.

Civil rights are rights and shouldn’t be subject to vote. You shouldn’t be able to vote to take away your neighbor’s rights, and they shouldn’t be able to vote to take away yours. It’s frustrating how many people forget that when the rights belong to someone else, someone they hate, someone they’d just as soon stuff under a rock. (Literally — one idiot in the comment thread to the above-linked article wants to put all the gay people on Alcatraz. [eyeroll])

“Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown, D-Spokane, argued the measure is a civil-rights bill and that putting it on the ballot would subject the rights of minorities ‘to the whims of the majority.'” Exactly.

Anyway, it’s a step in the right direction. The bill will likely pass the House, and then starting March 8, the bigots will be out stumping for signatures. I’m sure they’ll get them easily, although I’d be delighted to be wrong about that. The real battle will be in November. Good wishes now and in November will be greatly appreciated.


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Angela Benedetti lives in Seattle with her husband and a few thousand books. She loves romance for the happy endings, for the affirmation that everyone who's willing to fight for love deserves to get it and be happy with someone. She's best known for her Sentinel series of novels, the most recent of which is Captive Magic.