Referendum 74: Legalization of same-sex marriage

Referendum 74 or R74 is a referendum to approve or reject the February 2012 bill that would legalize same-sex marriage in the state of Washington. The intent of the original bill, Senate Bill 6239, is to end discrimination in marriage based on gender and sexual orientation and to ensure that all persons in Washington enjoy the freedom to marry on equal terms, according to the Washington State Legislature website.

SB 6239 was passed in the Washington State Senate on Feb.1, 2012 with a 28-21 vote. Governor Gregoire signed the bill into law on Feb. 13, 2012, and the law would have taken effect June 7, according to equalrightswashington.org.

However, those against the bill argue that the question should be put to a public vote. More than 250,000 signatures were acquired and turned in to the Washington Secretary of State on June 6, according to preservemarriagewashington.com That was enough signatures to qualify for a referendum, which is submitting to popular vote a measure proposed by the legislative.

SB 6239 does not require churches or religious organizations to perform marriages between gay or lesbian couples, nor does it inflict penalties upon them if they don’t. However, opponents argue that businesses and individuals could face penalties if they do not want to do business with gay couples for marriage ceremonies, according to seattletimes.com.

Supporters of marriage equality claim that allowing same-sex marriage does not change the meaning of marriage. They say that what defines marriage is love and commitment, according to equalrightswashington.org.

“This isn’t changing the definition of marriage. It’s expanding it,” sophomore and Gay Straight Alliance President Audrey Gudeman said.

Opponents of same-sex marriage claim that allowing same-sex marriage redefines marriage as a genderless institution, according to preservemarriagewashington.org.

“Marriage is a sacred union,” sophomore Paige Berdan said. “God created it to be between a man and a woman.”

Supporters argue that state and federal marriage laws provide economic and legal protection for couples and their families, such as visitation rights in hospitals and the ability to transfer property, according to equalrightswashington.org.

However, opponents argue that the domestic partnership law passed in 2007 grants couples about two dozen rights, including hospital visitation and inheritance rights. The law was revised in 2009 with the addition of the “everything but marriage” and was upheld by voters, according to seattletimes.com.

“This isn’t about legal benefits. If you love someone you want to be able to be with them in a recognized way,” Gudeman said. On Nov. 6, voters have the opportunity to either reject R74 and maintain marriage as a union between a man and a woman, or approve R74 to legalize same-sex marriage.

Kendra Stubbs Staff Writer

Contact Kendra Stubbs at kstubbs16@my.whitworth.edu