The defense of gay marriage act
That our state's Defense of Marriage Act was upheld by the Washington Supreme Court is no reason to give up the fight for marriage equality. The defeat last summer for same-sex marriage was by one vote, and the ruling was mushy enough to encourage advocates to keep pushing.
The Seattle Times is among those advocates, mostly for down-to-Earth reasons: the promotion of family stability and the protection of spouses and children. These are the same practical reasons for marriage between a man and a woman. In our view, as soon as society legalized homosexuality and allowed adoption by same-sex couples, marriage became inevitable. Last summer's ruling did not settle the dispute. Only marriage will settle it.
At a forum of the Federalist Society on Monday, Dale Carpenter, professor of law at the University of Minnesota, said the main "No" opinion by state Supreme Court Justice Barbara Madsen is "pregnant with possibilities of same-sex marriage."
In essence, he said, in asking for full marriage, same-sex couples had asked for a little too much. They might win, however, if they took one of the ways the lack of a marriage law penalizes them and sue on that one thing. Take another one, and sue on that. By and by, the remaining edifice will come down.
The Federalists' forum had a lawyer from each side. It was notable that the defender of the Defense of Marriage Act, attorney Steven O'Ban, offered an argument that was procedural only. O'Ban raised no argument against gay couples; he merely said the Legislature, not the court, is the place to change the law.
Bradley Bagshaw, who had represented the couples, made the most substantive argument: How, he asked, could the state justify limiting an individual's choice of marriage partner on the basis of gender?
Years ago, one might have said the state could do that because same-gender sex was illegal, and that there were no same-sex couples, and certainly none with children.
All that is changed, and it is not going to change back. The law will have to accommodate it.
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