It pains me to admit this, but Washington isn’t really the blue state it appears to be on presidential election eve. King County, which includes the city of Seattle, is as deep a blue as the ocean and the sky on clear, sunny day. The surrounding counties are tinged with purple. But the rest of the state is a rosy shade of red. We come out blue in national elections because King County is crammed with citizens, while the eastern part of the state is relatively sparsely populated, but there are still lots and lots of right-wingers here.
That’s how we came to have a law that bans gay marriage.
As a consolation prize, gay and lesbian couples in Washington can register as domestic partners and receive some of the rights and benefits enjoyed by married couples. That was the best we could do until a few months ago when, perhaps embarrassed by our lack of progress in the matter, the state legislature granted all of the remaining rights and benefits of marriage to domestic partnerships. It was dubbed the “everything but marriage” law.
And it still isn’t marriage. Let me be clear on this point. There’s no ceremony. No flowers. No cake. And certainly no church. It’s paperwork. Strictly a civil matter.
Before I tell you what happened next, let me remind you about California’s Proposition 8. Remember how all the gay-rights supporters accused the Prop 8 supporters of being bigots, hating gays, and possessing all manner of unloving characteristics? Remember how the Prop 8 people whined piteously? “Quit calling us bigots just because we think some people shouldn’t have the same rights others do! We do not hate gays! We’re just so worried about our freedom of religion! Some queer freaks might force us to let them get married in our church!” Yes, I know you all remember those discussions.
Ok, back to Washington State. The legislature granted gay “domestic partners” the benefits of marriage, such as the right to adopt your partner’s child, and the right to claim child support. But remember, no flowers! No churches! No need to fear an abridgement of religious freedom!
So the religious folk in our fine state should be fine with this, right? It has nothing to do with them, right?
A petition drive soon followed. They feverishly organized and gathered signatures. Just enough signatures to force a referendum to appear on the ballot at the next election, giving voters the opportunity to rescind those rights, granted by our elected representatives, from domestic partners.
I must now conclude that the Prop 8 people lied to me. It wasn’t about religious freedom at all. I know; you’re all shocked too.