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Opinion Northwest

Join the informed writers of The Times' editorial board in lively discussions at our blog, Opinion Northwest.

Topic: same-sex marriage

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October 9, 2014 at 12:07 PM

Denial won’t delay the inevitable, gay marriage is here to stay

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court decided to deny several lower courts’ appeals to uphold state bans on same-sex marriage, effectively legalizing marriage equality in 25 states and counting. At a time when domestic violence is so common and horror stories like this murder-suicide in Indiana make me question why some people get married…


Comments | Topics: butch otter, gay marriage, same-sex marriage

March 28, 2014 at 9:07 AM

World Vision’s reversal on marriage policy for gay workers is start of a conversation

For a mere 48 hours this week, World Vision stood up for the legal rights of gay people to be married and to work for its international humanitarian mission. Finally, here was an example of how a faith-based charity could respond and adapt to a controversial social issue such as same-sex marriage.

Screenshot of World Vision's web site, which includes the option for donors to sponsor a child from various developing countries.

Screenshot of World Vision’s web site, which includes the option for donors to sponsor a child from various developing countries.

What a disappointment on Wednesday to see this venerable global relief organization buckle under pressure from its conservative faction. As The Seattle Times’ Lornet Turnbull reports in this Thursday news story, World Vision apologized profusely to its supporters as it re-implemented its policy of refusing to employ gay Christians in same-sex marriages.

One would think that most people could overlook a minor HR rule and coalesce around World Vision’s human rights causes. Every year, the Federal Way-based Christian agency helps 400 million people around the world struggling with poverty, natural disasters, and sex trafficking.

Instead, the backlash was swift and sometimes mean-spirited.


Comments | Topics: gay rights, same-sex marriage, world vision

September 3, 2013 at 6:34 AM

The IRS puts its bureaucratic stamp on same-sex marriage

Call it the affirmation of normalcy. Epic Supreme Court decisions, citizen referendums and initiatives, and legislative action in state capitols and the U.S. Congress can launch dramatic social change. Other events serve as welcome milestones of ordinariness and acceptance. The U.S. Supreme Court set the course the IRS followed.(Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images) One sure sign  of two individuals…


Comments | Topics: IRS, same-sex marriage, taxes

August 13, 2013 at 11:45 AM

‘The Campaign’ shows how Prop. 8 ignited marriage-equality revolution

This Seattle Times news account of state Sen. Ed Murray’s marriage last Saturday to his long-time partner Michael Shiosaki warmed a lot of hearts, including mine. Murray, a Seattle Democrat, fought well over a decade to convince a majority of his fellow lawmakers to support legalizing same-sex marriage. Patience pays off. The two wed exactly 22 years from the day they met during a hike to Mount Rainier.

The political wedding of the season happened just a few days before the highly anticipated documentary film “The Campaign” is scheduled to screen Thursday at SIFF Uptown in Seattle at 7:30 p.m. KCTS 9 will broadcast the film next Sunday at 11pm. Here’s a preview:

Aw, that’s right. Four years before Washington state voters made history by becoming one of the first electorates in the union to affirm marriage equality, there was the 2008 campaign in California for and against Proposition 8, a measure by same-sex marriage opponents to define marriage in that state’s constitution as a union between one man and one woman. Two lower courts ruled the amendment was unconstitutional before the case reached the Supreme Court of the United States. Last June, the justices ruled they had no authority to decide on the case, thereby allowing California to resume same-sex marriages. (Read the Wikipedia explanation of this rather complex legal battle at this link.)

The stunning outcome of that election raised our collective consciousness and ignited a revolution (and lots of fundraising) in states outside California, including right here Washington. It forced a mainstream discussion about gay marriage not just as a social or political wedge problem but as an issue of human rights and personal freedom.


Comments | Topics: Documentary, ed murray, prop 8

June 26, 2013 at 1:39 PM

Supreme Court DOMA ruling shows what Washington court got wrong

Just seven years ago, the Washington Supreme Court gave great deference to the state Legislature’s right to discriminate against same-sex marriage.

In the 2006 Anderson v. King County ruling upholding the state Defense of Marriage Act, Justice Barbara Madsen wrote that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) didn’t violate couples’ rights to equal protection because those couples couldn’t show they required “favored minority class” status. Because of this flawed framing, it gave overly broad leeway for the Legislature to enable discrimination. Moreover, the ruling validated the Legislature’s authority to obsess over opposite-sex procreation. According to the Anderson ruling:

That is, the legislature was entitled to believe that providing that only opposite-sex couples may marry will encourage procreation and child-rearing in a “traditional” nuclear family where children tend to thrive.

Today, the supposedly more conservative U.S. Supreme Court flipped that argument on its head in U.S. v. Windsor. In its majority opinion, the court said:

DOMA violates basic due process and equal protection principles applicable to the Federal Government. The Constitution’s guarantee of equality “must at the very least mean that a bare congressional desire to harm a politically unpopular group cannot” justify disparate treatment of that group… DOMA cannot survive under these principles.

Justice Anthony Kennedy rightly peeled back the discriminatory intent of the federal DOMA (and its offspring, like Washington’s DOMA).

DOMA’s avowed purpose and practical effect are to impose a disadvantage, a separate status, and so a stigma upon all who enter into same-sex marriages made lawful by the unquestioned authority of the States. DOMA’s history of enactment and its own text demonstrate that interference with the equal dignity of same-sex marriages… was more than an incidental effect of the federal statute. It was its essence.

It was particularly refreshing to  see Kennedy confront the contention that children are somehow inherently harmed by parentage by loving same-same couples, a bugaboo of same-sex proponents and an argument advanced by our state Supreme Court.


Comments | Topics: ido74, referendum 74, same-sex marriage

June 26, 2013 at 10:46 AM

Celebrating U.S. Supreme Court rulings on same-sex marriage with the editorial board

I pulled this photo out of our archives to celebrate the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex marriage Wednesday: Our editorial board launched the “I Do” campaign to support Referendum 74, the initiative to legalize same-sex marriage initiative, in 2012. Missing in action: Editorial writer Jonathan Martin, who joined our board in 2013. He…


Comments | Topics: ido74, same-sex marriage

June 26, 2013 at 7:56 AM

Down with DOMA at U.S. Supreme Court, ducking on same-sex marriage

The U.S. Supreme Court upheld federal benefits for same-sex couples, but ducked on same-sex marriage in California. The first is a reason for celebration. The second was a dodge. I’ve been watching Pride flags go up all over Capitol Hill for the past month. It’s a relief that Washington state forged ahead in legalizing same-sex marriage…


Comments | Topics: ido74, same-sex marriage

April 29, 2013 at 6:15 AM

Liberal Washington state cannot come to terms with gay marriage

Arlene's Flowers, which faces legal action after denying service to a gay couple, is in Sen. Brown's district. (AP Photo/Tri-City Herald, Bob Brawdy)

Arlene’s Flowers, which faces legal action after denying service to a gay couple, is in Sen. Brown’s legislative district.
(AP Photo/Tri-City Herald, Bob Brawdy)

The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule on gay marriage in June, but some Washington lawmakers are unable to get past gay people existing, never mind getting married.  State Sen. Sharon Brown, R-Kennewick introduced  a proposed law that would allow businesses to deny service to gay and lesbian customers. This Associated Press story gives more details. One step forward, two steps back.

One of Brown’s constituents is the Richland florist facing state legal action for refusing wedding-related services to a gay couple. This is constituent service at its most extreme and its most repugnant.

Senate Bill 5927 isn’t likely to pick up steam in the Washington Legislature’s special session that starts May 13. But if it did it would seek to supersede protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation codified in state law in 2006.

Still just knowing the bill was introduced last Friday and not immediately booed into oblivion by senators rankles.

Not that there wasn’t swift outrage.


Comments | Topics: discrimination, republicans, same-sex marriage

April 22, 2013 at 6:04 AM

Civil Disagreement: Should Arlene’s Flowers be required to serve a gay wedding?

Civil Disagreement pits two members of the Seattle Times editorial board against each other on a question of the day. It is an occasional feature of The Times’ Northwest Opinion blog. Here Bruce Ramsey and Lynne K. Varner take on the controversy over a Richland, Wash., florist who refused to do a flower arrangement for…


Comments | More in Pro/con | Topics: same-sex marriage

April 10, 2013 at 12:20 PM

Poll: Should Bob Ferguson sue florist for refusing to serve same-sex couple?

Does a Richland florist have the right to provide service to a gay man for years, then decide she won’t do business with him when he tells her he’s using the flowers in his wedding ceremony to another man?

Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson doesn’t think so. Discrimination is discrimination, and Washington treats the institution of marriage the same for all after the passage of Referendum 74 last November.

Here’s the skinny from Seattle Times reporter Lornet Turnbull’s Tuesday news story:


Comments | More in Polls | Topics: bob ferguson, politics, referendum 74

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