Earlier this year, the Legislature passed a bill to redefine marriage by allowing same-sex marriage.
Thanks to the signatures of nearly 250,000 Washingtonians, Referendum 74 is on the ballot. We are urging voters not to redefine marriage, but instead to mark “reject” when they receive their ballots.
First, same-sex couples in Washington already have full legal equality. Second, marriage is about more than recognizing the relationships of adults. It’s also about what children need to function best. The overwhelming body of evidence shows that children thrive best when raised by their married mom and dad. And last, we must mark “reject” because of the profound consequences that our society will face if marriage is redefined.
In 2009, voters approved the “everything but marriage” law. That means a same-sex couple in Washington already has every legal right and obligation in Washington that an opposite sex couple has. No exceptions. While Referendum 74 will not grant same-sex couples any new benefits, it will redefine marriage for everyone.
Children do best when raised by their married mom and dad. By making marriage genderless, the Legislature belittles the unique roles of moms and dads. Marriage is the only institution we have that not only unites a man and a woman with one another, but also with any children born to them.
Children have a right to know and be cared for by both their mom and their dad. Stripping marriage of its male and female qualities will shift marriage from being a public institution that binds children to their parents to an arrangement focused on the personal desires of adults.
Finally, there will be profound consequences for anyone who disagrees with this potential new definition of marriage. A common myth is that somehow same-sex marriage will coexist in the law alongside traditional marriage.
But the truth is, when marriage is redefined, it becomes the sole definition of marriage for everyone — gay or straight. No more husbands and wives. Only spouse 1 and spouse 2. Everyone in Washington must submit to the new definition of marriage or face potential consequences.
Recently, Washington, D.C., Mayor Vincent Gray said in reference to supporters of traditional marriage that, “... There just is no place for them in this city.”
The District of Columbia has redefined marriage and imposed same-sex marriage there. Gray’s statement provides a clear illustration of how our religious liberties are at stake when marriage is redefined, for Gray suggests that supporters of traditional marriage have “no place” in our nation’s capital. This is similar to statements from mayors in other places that back gay marriage, such as Boston and San Francisco.
In states that have redefined marriage, there have already been consequences for those who support traditional marriage. For example, religious groups such as Catholic Charities in Boston and Washington, D.C., have had to choose between fulfilling their social mission based on their religious beliefs, or accepting this new definition of marriage. As a result they had to close their adoption programs.
Redefining marriage also influences our educational system and the rights of parents to direct their children’s upbringing. Whenever schools educate children about marriage, they have no realistic choice but to teach this new genderless institution. Remember, this new definition of marriage replaces traditional marriage. In Massachusetts, kids as young as second grade have been taught about homosexual marriage in class. The courts have ruled that parents had no right to prior notice, or to opt their children out of such instruction.
When marriage is redefined, business owners also face consequences if they express support for traditional marriage.
Wedding professionals have been fined for refusing to participate in a same-sex ceremony. Innkeepers in Vermont had to pay more than $30,000 because of their refusal to make their facilities available for same-sex weddings. Doctors, lawyers, accountants and other licensed professionals risk their state licenses for acting in concert with their beliefs about marriage.
So when we “reject” Referendum 74, we are rejecting this kind of intolerance. We urge Washington voters to reject Referendum 74. Our children and grandchildren are depending on us to protect their freedom and their future.
Chip White is communications director for Preserve Marriage Washington. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org