Thursday, July 27, 2006

Washington Supreme Courst says NO to Marriage Equality

Some months ago my friends Dotti and Roby asked if I'd help officiate the state sanctioning of their marriage if the Washington State Supreme Court decided in favor of marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples. They'd already been married in Oregon, and then later had the state sanction for their marriage revoked. We won't be doing that wedding anytime soon.

WA Supreme Court rules against marriage equality: The court acknowledged the hardship and inequality that couples like Dotti and Roby suffer because they're same gender, but the court decided they have no right to the state sanctioning of marriage. The court said the legislature could take this up if they want to create marriage equality law.

I read the Washington Supreme Court Ruling and found myself thankful for advocates who keep pressing through the long legal thickets of gaining equality. Dissenting Justice Bridges predicted that "gay marriage will ultimately be on the books and this court will be criticized for failing to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act." I agree with her. The majority responded, "while same-sex marriage may be the law at a future time, it will be because the people declare it to be, not because five members of the court have dictated it." Although I believe the court is in business to protect minority rights (women, slaves, and the long history of those who have been included in the rights and privileges of our country), still, I find hope in this statement of the court.

Equality will come when people declare it to be:That's our job, declaring equality, making it so in our everyday lives. Dotti and Roby, (who have traveled the country this year in search of authentic connections,) tell us all that we must come out of the closet, claim our authentic selves, and engage people in daily real life. This is equally true for "straight" folks who understand the need for equality.

As I found on my unicycle tour Straight Into Gay America, Dotti and Roby are confirming that when people hear about real people and real situations, almost everyone responds, "Yes, they should have those rights." Equality will come when we declare it to be.

A neighbor recently came up to me and gave me a friendly shaking on the shoulder. "You're making me think too much," she said, "I've never paid any attention to gay rights."

"Good," I replied, "If your daughter's grow up lesbian, or bisexual, or transgender, you've still got plenty of time to make sure you'll accept them and love them for who they are."

No straight marriage was made stronger by yesterday's ruling, but plenty of same-gender partnerships and plenty of children being raised by same-gender parents will continue to live together and love together without the strengthening privileges and responsibilities of state-sanctioned marriage. For now, the simple promises to one another, to their communities, and to God, will have to suffice.

Once we declare equality to be,
  • then partners can visit one another in the Intensive Care Units where current visitation practices restrict visitation to immediate family members.
  • then custody questions will cease if one parent in the family dies
  • then social security benefits can be shared
  • medical coverage will apply
  • inheritance will transfer
  • taxes can join
  • the other 1138 federal benefits that apply to married couples will apply to same gender who have promised their lives to one another and to their children.

After the tour last summer, and after the week in Colorado with beautiful families, I know equality makes sense. I'll keep pushing Straight Into Gay America. There is an equality day in our future, no matter the length of the journey. Blessings for the road.



Lewis Thompson said...

Lars, thanks for the wise response to the WA Supreme Court decision yesterday and also for the daily reflections on the SoulForce march last week. It was Laurin's and my pleasure to meet you and walk with you a while. You are among those who are the true hope for this nation to rise out of its current madness and once again become--to quote Ronald Reagan paraphrasing Winthrop--"a shining city upon a hill", albeit hopefully one powered by renewable energy sources.

Katrina Stonoff said...

This made me sad when I saw the headline today in the Olympian. Sad day in Washington. I had hoped for wiser heads.