Friday, January 20, 2012
Nearly five years ago Washington state enacted a law allowing gay couples to enter into legal domestic partnerships. A few years later it expanded the domestic partnership law that gave gays all the rights of a married couple. The only significant difference between a marriage and a domestic partnership was the label.
And we were OK with having different terms for gay and heterosexual couples. At that time it seemed as if using two terms allowed gay couples to obtain the rights they needed to have legal standing in such areas as health care and property rights without having to bicker over whether marriage must be reserved for a relationship between a man and a woman.
That's what happened. The Legislature approved domestic partnerships and the voters affirmed the decision at the polls.
Now six states -- Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and Vermont -- have gone all in approving laws that allow gays to marry.
American society seems to have accepted gay marriage. Sure, some people are opposed on religious or moral grounds, but the majority of people take a live-and-let-live approach.
The Legislature is currently debating whether to go all in and allow gays to marry. We believe the time is right.
Language 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. So, let's call it a marriage for everybody.
The proposal in the Legislature does not mandate that churches perform or even acknowledge gay marriages. It simply allows gays to obtain state civil marriage licenses that make their relationship legally binding.
Support for the proposal is growing in the Senate where it is just one vote shy of gaining approval.
Sen. Jim Kastama, D-Puyallup, has been a supporter of defining marriage as between one man and one woman. He voted in 1998 for a law that defined marriage that way. He supported the expansion of the domestic partnership law but had stopped short of endorsing gay marriage. He changed his stand Thursday.
"I think that is a progression that I think many people have gone through in our society," Kastama said. "I think we have all evolved, and I think this is a culmination of that."
Well said. That progression has most certainly taken place.
The Legislature should move forward and make gay marriage legal.