OLYMPIA – Lawmakers have chosen today – the day that millions across the country celebrate the bonds of affection shared between two people in love – as the day to introduce major legislation that would no longer restrict gays and lesbians from their right to marry.
Today is not the first time the issue of marriage equality for gays and lesbians and the Valentine’s Day holiday have crossed paths.
In early February of 1998, in what has proven to be the darkest of Valentine’s for gay and lesbian families in our state, the Legislature enshrined discrimination as the law of the land in Washington by overriding the veto of then-Gov. Gary Locke to approve the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act.”
This Valentine’s Day, Rep. Jim Moeller, D-Vancouver, and Sen. Ed Murray, D-Seattle, said the night is darkest just before the dawn.
“Over the past several years, the Legislature and the public together have been steadily building a bridge to equality for gay and lesbian families,” said Moeller. He noted the passage of civil rights legislation in 2006 protecting gays and lesbians from discrimination in employment, housing, and financial transactions, and then three successive years of securing broader and broader domestic partnership rights — which included successfully withstanding a hostile referendum challenge at the ballot in 2009.
“We’ve made tremendous progress since 1998,” Murray said. “Gay and lesbian families in Washington now enjoy the same state spousal rights that their married straight friends enjoy – except for the name ‘marriage’. The recognition that their loving, lifelong commitment is no different from the loving, lifelong commitment of straight couples is the final step to achieving full equality. I believe the Legislature and the public are both ready to take that final step.”
Please sign the Marriage Equality petition today and ask friends to do the same.
The pro-equality vote in Washington state has been rising steadily for the past five years. With a concerted effort, we can put the numbers over the top in 2012. Recall that in 2009 the Washington electorate was the first in the nation to ratify a same-sex relationship recognition law at the polls, 52.6% to 27.4%.
As Equal Rights Washington reminds us, “The most important thing you can do in support of marriage equality is to talk to your friends, family, neighbors and coworkers about why marriage equality matters to you and people you love. Nothing is more powerful than personal stories. So let’s keep the conversation going.”
Another way to “get engaged” and help make marriage equality a reality in Washington state by participating in the Equality Day 2011 in Olympia on March 22, 2011.
Equality Day 2011 is your opportunity to engage with your legislators in person. On March 22 you can educate your legislators about your lives. Tell them how the decisions they make help you contribute fully as a member of the community, promote your freedom to love who you love, and live healthy productive lives. We have many opportunities this year to support our families by creating protections for children and parents in the Uniform Parentage Act, creating a safe and supportive educational environment for our students, promoting awareness of HIV/AIDS and good public health, and making progress toward marriage equality.
Your legislators have their hands on the levers of power, but they need your help to know which way to pull them.
Help Spread the Word! Print and Post an Equality Day 2011 flyer on bulletin boards inside LGBT friendly establishments in your community.