Two WA Gay Legislators Introduce Full-Scale Domestic Partnership Rights Bill


Two gay legislators in Washington state – Ed Murray and Jamie Pederson – have introduced legislation that would grant full scale legal and economic rights to that state’s LGBT domestic partnerships, making WA’s LGBT domestic partnerships one hundred percent equivalent with marriage.  Just without the word “marriage”.

In the ongoing battle for LGBT equality generally, and the fight for marriage/relationship equality specifically, states are taking different tacks towards the future.  As marriage – and domestic partnership – are states’ rights issues, this seems not only appropriate, but mirrors the history of civil rights legislative reforms around marriage and relationships.

Moreover, a move to make domestic partnerships legally and economically equivalent to marriage – in all but name – reflects the policies of Great Britain, and fits with the repeatedly stated objectives of President Obama on this issue.  A few weeks ago, I wrote a post here on about a “gotcha” interview that Chicago’s Windy City Times published from 2004 with then Senate candidate Barack Obama.  The interview focused on many things, and when the issue of same-sex marriage came up, Obama stated he was against expanding marriage for the LGBT community, but was wholly in favor of expanding the rights and privileges of domestic partnerships, at the state level, to be completely equivalent to the rights and privileges of marriage.   Just no use of the word “marriage”.  The interviewer interrupted him to point out that domestic partnerships don’t carry the same legal rights as marriage, and Obama re-iterated that he knows that and that he wants to see that domestic partnerships indeed become equivalent – fully – with marriage.

The Times seemed to feel that this was some sort of a “gotcha’ on Obama – that somehow, Obama was against equality for LGBT relationships under the law.   As he stated then and since, as Britain has concluded, and as this new legislation in Washington state points out, equality – full equality – for LGBT relationships can be attached to LGBT domestic partnerships without ever having to use the word “marriage”.

It seems to me that many who insist on marriage and marriage alone in order to gain LGBT equality see government as having to play a lead role in bestowing upon gay people an “equality of community respect” with straight people.  That is not the role of government.  Government does not exist to make all Americans love and respect all other Americans.  Government exists to protect the equality of rights of all Americans, under the law.  

So, I guess it comes down to this:  if we as a community can successfully get full and equal rights under the law for our love and our relationships – and our families – yet cannot get the word “marriage” attached to these rights – is that enough? 

I think so, for sure, as I am concerned with substantive rights under the law, not the vocabulary of the American culture.

(Image courtesy of Getty)

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