Wash. gay 'marriage' bill goes to governor

OLYMPIA, Wash. (BP) -- Washington state Gov. Christine Gregoire is on the verge of signing a bill that would legalize gay "marriage," but voters in the state likely will get the last word.

 
A bill legalizing gay "marriage" passed the Washington state House Wednesday (Feb. 8), 55-43, one week after it cleared the Senate, 28-21. Democrats control both chambers, and Gregoire, a Democrat, has pledged to sign it. That technically would make Washington the seventh state to redefine marriage, but churches and traditional groups could put it on hold by collecting 121,000 valid signatures by June 6. If that happens, it will go on the November ballot, and voters could reverse the law. A simple majority vote is required.

"Ultimately the people will decide on marriage [in Washington]," Joseph Backholm, executive director of the conservative Family Policy Institute of Washington, previously told Baptist Press. "And in 31 out of 31 states, they've voted not to redefine marriage, and we don't expect that Washington will be any different."

Based on past history, a ballot vote on gay "marriage" likely will be close. In 2009, a far less controversial law dealing with gay domestic partnerships survived at the ballot, but it was closer than people thought it would be. By a 53-47 percent margin, voters retained the law granting gay couples all the legal benefits of marriage, without the name. Supporters made clear then that the law was simply a stepping stone to gay "marriage."

If the initiative does qualify for the ballot, traditionalists likely will spotlight two themes that have proven successful in other states: 1) children need mothers and fathers and 2) legalizing gay "marriage" will have negative consequences on religious freedoms and what is taught in elementary schools.

"The purpose [of marriage] is a recognition of the fact that children come from heterosexual sex and that we want to unite the parents of those children to each other and parents to their children as often as possible," Backholm said. "The purpose of marriage is to create the greatest likelihood that children will be raised by their mother and father."

Despite what supporters of gay "marriage" argue, mothers and fathers are not "interchangeable and replaceable," Backholm said.

An amendment to the bill was defeated that would have protected religious adoption agencies from being forced to place children with same-sex couples or individuals.


Compiled by Michael Foust, associate editor of Baptist Press. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).