Even though I do not favor the expansion of the concept of marriage to include any more than a man and a woman, I do agree with the opinion expressed by Mark Beck (U-B Feb. 9), that marriage may be envisioned as having two separate meanings, one associated with church and religion and one associated with the state.
And I would agree that the state has the right to adjust and change its definition of marriage. But the way it has happened in our state leads one to wonder just what kind of government we have now.
The usual assumption in a democracy is that such changes would be brought about by some due process through which the opinions of the citizens would be reflected. But, according to one news report I heard, the Senate president, as she moved the new law toward a vote, said something like, "This matter cannot be put to the vote of the citizens because that would put the rights of a minority up against the whims of the majority!"
I ask you, in a democracy, if the opinions and desires of the majority are considered to be mere whims, what do we have left?
Clearly, our state is now governed by an elite but powerful superclass that knows what is best for the majority and has no qualms about forcing its will upon everyone else. Rather than celebrating the new law, perhaps we should have a farewell ceremony noting that, in the state of Washington, democracy lasted from Nov. 11, 1889 (the date upon which we became the 42nd state), until Feb. 13, 2011, the date Gov. Gregoire signed the new bill into law.
Oh, and one more reflection. Notice that the old system worked by denial, denying certain rights and privileges whereas the new one will work by enforcement. "You may not" has become "You will do."
And while there is currently provision for people who have issues of conscience when it comes to same-sex marriage (clearly, in the opinion of many, this is a very unhappy accommodation), you can be sure those provisions will be eroded over time as those in power work to get their way.
David E. Thomas