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2012: R-74 (Marriage)

This referendum provides Washington state voters with the opportunity to approve or reject the state’s 2012 law that allows civil marriage for same-sex couples. From the voter’s guide:

Ballot Title
The legislature passed Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill 6239 concerning marriage for same-sex couples, modified domestic-partnership law, and religious freedom, and voters have filed a sufficient referendum petition on this bill.

This bill would allow same-sex couples to marry, preserve domestic partnerships only for seniors, and preserve the right of clergy or religious organizations to refuse to perform, recognize, or accommodate any marriage ceremony.

Should this bill be: Approved [ ] Rejected [ ]

Ballot Measure Summary

This bill allows same-sex couples to marry, applies marriage laws without regard to gender, and specifies that laws using gender-specific terms like husband and wife include same-sex spouses. After 2014, existing domestic partnerships are converted to marriages, except for seniors. It preserves the right of clergy or religious organizations to refuse to perform or recognize any marriage or accommodate wedding ceremonies. The bill does not affect licensing of religious organizations providing adoption, foster-care, or child-placement.

A referendum measure happens if there are enough citizen signatures to require that legislation be ratifying by a popular vote. From the Washington Secretary of State:

The 2012 Legislature passed ESSB 6239 concerning marriage for same-sex couples, modified domestic-partnership law, and religious freedom.  On February 13, 2012, Joseph Backholm filed a referendum measure to refer this legislation to the 2012 General Election ballot.  If the sponsor files at least 120,577 valid signatures of Washington registered voters, the referendum will qualify for the 2012 General Election ballot, where the voters of Washington will have the opportunity to “approve” or “reject” the legislation… the filing of referendum signatures on June 6 suspends the law.

Supporting arguments:

  • Washington United for Marriage
    Washington United for Marriage is a coalition of organizations, congregations, unions, and businesses working together to defend civil marriage for loving, committed same-sex couples. We believe marriage and family are about love and commitment, working together, bettering the community, raising children, and growing old together. We believe in a Washington that supports strong families and values freedom and equality. And we believe that marriage matters.
  • Why Marriage Matters Washington
    Allowing same-sex couples to marry does not change the meaning of marriage. It simply allows same-sex couples to marry the person they love, to establish and protect a family, and to make a lifetime commitment in the same way that other couples are able to.

Opposing arguments:

  • Preserve Marriage Washington
    Marriage serves a vital and universal societal purpose – to channel biological drive and sexual passion that might otherwise become socially destructive into enduring family units that have the best opportunity to ensure the care and education of any children produced by that biological drive and sexual passion. Indeed, the United States Supreme Court has said that marriage is, ‘fundamental to the very existence and survival of the race.’
  • The National Catholic Register
    “The law should continue to acknowledge sexual difference and its potential to create new life. If there is anything we have come to appreciate and value more fully in this modern age, it is that men and women are not the same. That is true not only biologically, but on so many other levels. Men and women are not interchangeable. They each bring something of their difference to complement each other.” - Bishop Blase Cupich of Spokane.



ESSB 6239 : Washington State

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