FEBRUARY 24, 1997

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Writing discrimination into law

discrimination To [State Legislature] Representatives Lambert and Backlund:
   Your sponsorship of the anti-marriage bill in the Legislature offends my partner and me, your constituents who also happen to be a lesbian couple in a long-term, committed relationship. Your willingness to write discrimination into the law is truly amazing and frightening.
   There is much talk about "traditional marriage" and the need to protect it. "Tradition" is not a particularly convincing argument once a person gives it a little thought. At one time in this country, African-Americans were not permitted to marry, even each other. At one time in this country, Asian-Americans were not permitted to marry, even each other. As little as 30 years ago, in several states, African-Americans and European-Americans were not permitted to marry.
   These traditions were hurtful and unfair and there was no compelling reason to uphold such discrimination--and so the laws were struck down. The same is true for same-sex marriage.
   The Supreme Court in Hawaii, after much deliberation of the arguments, found there is no "compelling reason to discriminate" in regard to marriage for same-sex couples. Families, it is argued, are the foundation of this country, and polls find that family is, in fact, the most important concern for the people of this country.
   Well, guess what? That is true for gay and lesbian households, too! In Hawaii, even the experts testifying on behalf of the anti-marriage side had to admit that the children raised in gay and lesbian families were indistinguishable from the children raised in heterosexual families.
   The issue here is not "weddings." Many churches and synagogues perform weddings today to join together same-sex couples, in accordance with their faith. No congregation will ever be forced to perform same-sex marriages, just as some congregations today refuse to perform interracial or interfaith marriages.
   The issue is LEGAL MARRIAGE, a civil contract which includes many rights, responsibilities, and protections. The issue is equality.
   Our marriage will not harm your marriage. Really. If we marry, you do not have to get divorced!

Dee A. Smiley, Duvall