The Freedom to Marry Has Always Been the Goal in Washington State
In lieu of respectful debate, opponents of Washington’s marriage equality bill (HB 2516 & SB 6239) are making false claims about marriage equality advocates. State Sen. Val Stevens has alleged that “Domestic partnership claimed to be the goal of the homosexual community …but now they want marriage.” Attorney Stephen Pidgeon is even more pointed in his allegations, saying “As we know, we had promises 3 years ago from Senator Ed Murray that domestic partnership would be the end of their push. That was a bald-faced lie.” (video time stamp 5:57)
What nonsense. Pro-equality legislative leaders have stated early and often that marriage equality was the ultimate goal. Here for example is what Rep. Joe McDermott and Sen. Ed Murray said in January, 2007 when the first domestic partnership bill was filed:
“Our goal is marriage equity, and we will work for that,” said Rep. Joe McDermott, D-Seattle, one of the Legislature’s five openly gay lawmakers who are working on the measures. “In the meantime, our effort is to provide immediate relief, immediate benefits, to same-sex couples.” …
“This is not about domestic partnership; this is about marriage,” said Murray, the main sponsor of both bills in the Senate. “The only reason we are introducing the domestic partnership bill is to further the cause of educating the public.”
After that bill passed, ABC News quoted Sen. Murray:
It is an important step, I believe, for turning back the horrendous law that this Legislature passed in 1998, to deny gay and lesbian families the right to marry.
The recent statements by Sen. Stevens and Mr. Pidgeon conflict completely with those made two years ago by the campaign they helped lead in a failed effort to repeal the Domestic Partnership Expansion Law of 2009 (SB 5688) via Referendum 71. Surely they remember their own Reject Referendum 71 doorbell flier that featured these quotes from Sen. Murray and Rep. Jamie Pedersen?:
State Senator Ed Murray, when announcing the Domestic Partnership bill said this:
“The goal is marriage equality. It’s an important statement that our eyes are on the prize, and the prize is marriage.” (Seattle Times, Jan. 10, 2007)
State Senator Ed Murray also told the Times that the domestic partnership expansion (SB-5688) is an:
“incremental approach — a strategic plan.” (Seattle Times, May 17, 2007)
Representative Jamie Pederson told the Seattle Times that SB-5688 will give homosexuals:
“A bridge until they can marry.” (Seattle Times,
Jan. 28, 2009)
These quotes or abridgments of them were used frequently throughout the Referendum 71 campaign by marriage equality opponents and are still available on web pages they created. For example, a set written by Reject Referendum 71’s campaign manager Larry Stickney can be found on this Red County page. Gary Randall, a long-time collaborator of Sen Stevens and Mr. Pidgeon on anti-gay campaigns, reprinted them on his blog as recently as August, 2011.
Sen. Stevens’s current allegations are particularly scurrilous because she was fully aware in 2009 that Sen. Murray’s goal is marriage equality. She stated as much herself in a message she released in October, 2009 to rally opposition to the domestic partnership law. Under the banner “Important message from Sen. Val Stevens on R-71!” she reports:
Senator Murray, one of the bill’s homosexual sponsors said marriage is the end game.
Sen. Stevens and Mr. Pidgeon should retract their statements and apologize.