Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire intends to sign a bill that would redefine marriage, but the National Organization for Marriage wants to prevent the bill from getting to her desk in the first place.
But with another state senator, Mary Margaret Haugen, a Democrat from Camano Island, coming out in favor of the measure, the bill has the 25 votes it needs to pass out of the upper chamber. The bill is also expected to pass the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives.
Gregoire, a Democrat who is not seeking re-election, recently changed course on the issue and requested the legislation to change the legal definition of marriage.
Washingtonians voted against this stance in 1998 when they passed a law defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman. The law was upheld by the state Supreme Court in 2006. In 2009, a domestic-partnership law, which has been called the “everything but marriage” law, was passed.
This has not gone unnoticed by Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM).
“It’s fairly incredible that some legislators would try to legalize homosexual ‘marriage’ so soon after giving same-sex couples all the rights and privileges of marriage through domestic partnerships,” said Brown in a press release.
“This effort proves that the question is not one of rights, but preserving marriage as a child-focused institution that has served families since the dawn of time. All legislators need to know that the same-sex ‘marriage’ lobby wants to destroy the institution of marriage, redefining not just marriage, but also ‘husband,’ ‘wife,’ ‘mother’ and ‘father.’”
On Jan. 18, NOM pledged $250,000 to oust any Washington state Republican senator who votes to redefine marriage. The money would be spent to support primary challengers of incumbents voting against their party’s pro-marriage platform.
“We intend to hold every legislator accountable for his or her vote on marriage,” Brown promised. “Any Republican who votes to redefine marriage can count on funding of a primary challenge to them.” NOM has already done this in California, Minnesota and Maine.
NOM also intends to work with pro-marriage grassroots organizations to ensure that citizens in the state of Washington have the chance to vote on marriage in November 2012. Brown said, “If the (state) Legislature forces through same-sex ‘marriage,’ they need to know that marriage will be on the ballot in November and the people of Washington will hold them accountable.”
In 31 other states, voters have voted on marriage, and in each case, traditional marriage has won. Brown noted that “every time the people have voted to protect the definition of marriage as one man and one woman. The people of Washington state deserve the same right.”
Kirby Wilbur, chairman of the Washington State Republican Party, said that senators can expect primary challengers when they vote against basic tenets firmly held by a large number of voters.
“When they vote contrary to the traditional definition of marriage — the same one that is found in our party’s platform — they can’t be surprised when there’s a backlash. The National Organization for Marriage has every right to do what they’re doing.”
The bishops of Washington state have urged citizens to contact their legislators in an effort to preserve the state’s legal definition of marriage. In a letter titled “Marriage and the Common Good,” the bishops presented an appeal based on reason.
The letter read, in part: “Washington state’s present law defining marriage as ‘a civil contract between a male and a female’ is grounded not in faith, but in reason and the experience of society. It recognizes the value of marriage as a bond of personal relationships, but also in terms of the unique and irreplaceable potential of a man and woman to conceive and nurture new life, thus contributing to the continuation of the human race.”
The letter continued: “A change in legislation would mean that the state would no longer recognize the unique sacrifices and contributions made by these couples, thereby adding to the forces already undermining family life today.”
Register correspondent Trent Beattie writes from Seattle.