Washington’s Catholic Bishops Promote the Lie That the Freedom to Marry Law Confers No New Legal Rights

Archbishop Sartain

Bishop Cupich

Bishop Tyson

Auxiliary Bishop Elizondo

“Registered domestic partners in Washington State already have legal equality with married couples, and they possess all the legal rights and benefits of marriage.” This is the outright lie being promoted by the Roman Catholic bishops of Washington state and Preserve Marriage Washington, opponents of Referendum 74.

Referendum 74 is a question on the Nov. 6 ballot asking voters to “approve” or “reject” the state’s new law — passed by the legislature with bipartisan majorities and signed by Gov. Gregoire — that allows same-sex couples the freedom to get a civil marriage license.

The bishops’ statement is clearly false because if domestic partners had the same legal rights as married couples, they would be able to obtain civil marriage licenses and call their legal contract “marriage”. Yet this legal equality will be denied same-sex couples unless voters approve Referendum 74 on Nov. 6.

The bishops also refuse to honestly address the reality that people with sub-equal statuses like domestic partnerships are not treated equally in the real world. Marriage Fact Check sums it up nicely:

States that have passed civil unions have found that they’re fundamentally unequal and harmful. [See here, here, and here.] As the Supreme Court of Connecticut wrote in 2008 when it struck down a statute that prohibited same-sex marriage, civil unions and marriage “are by no means ‘equal.’”

How can anyone claim that domestic partners have all the rights of marriage when access to civil marriage licenses and to the word “marriage” is forbidden to same-sex couples, and when courts have ruled that the two statuses are not legally equal?

Apparently the bishops hope to distract heterosexual voters from recognizing the common human desire they share with same-sex couples to commit their lives to loving and caring for their spouse. If the bishops can get voters to believe that same-sex couples are only concerned with a bundle of legal rights which they already allegedly possess (even if that isn’t true), they can more easily promote the idea that gays are only craven benefits-grabbers and that therefore the social covenant of marriage is a special right that should be enjoyed by opposite-sex couples only.

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