August 4, 2006
Volume 34
Issue 31
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MLK County Executive Ron Sims expresses disappointment with Supreme Court decision against marriage equality
MLK County Executive Ron Sims expresses disappointment with Supreme Court decision against marriage equality
Executive Sims addresses the press after the DOMA rulingKing County Executive Ron Sims said he was very disappointed with today's decision by the Washington State Supreme Court's decision to deny Gay and Lesbian citizens of the state access to the benefits of marriage.

In its narrow 5-4 decision, the court upheld the constitutionality of the state's Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which bars Gay and Lesbian couples from marrying.

"I continue to believe that marriage equality is a fundamental civil rights issue," Sims said. "I wish the court had ruled differently, but I respect its decision, and as a public servant I am committed to upholding the law."

Sims likened today's decision to the United States Supreme Court's infamous Plessy v. Ferguson ruling, which for decades had enshrined discrimination in the law before finally being overturned by a later Supreme Court case, Brown v. Board of Education.

"This is an unwise decision. To my mind, it is reminiscent of Plessy v. Ferguson. Separate but equal was once the law of the land too, but eventually Plessy was overturned.

"If the legislature does not make changes first, I firmly believe that a future court will take up this issue again," Sims said. And on that day, a wiser and more enlightened generation will overturn this ruling."

Despite his disagreement with the ruling, Sims stressed that the issue had been handled the right way in Washington State. While Sims resisted pressure from grassroots marriage advocates to issue licenses on his own authority in 2004, he worked closely with same-sex marriage proponents to craft a legal challenge to the DOMA.

"When the push for marriage equality heated up in 2004, I made a decision to handle the issue in an orderly and deliberative way. I remain proud that in our state we have for the most part avoided some of the incivility and discriminatory rhetoric that has developed around this issue in other places," Sims said. "I hope that continues."

The Executive reaffirmed his heartfelt support for the 19 loving Gay and Lesbian couples that were denied the right to marry today, but added that he would continue to work to change the law. Sims announced he would urge the legislature to create some way for the state to recognize loving long-term unions of Gay and Lesbian couples.

"Today's decision is a setback, but the struggle will continue. As someone who marched alongside my parents for African-American civil rights, I know that fundamental change does not come easily," Sims said. "There are always bumps on the road in the struggle for fundamental civil rights. Sometimes it takes longer than we might like to bring about needed social change. To those who might be inclined to lose heart because of today's ruling, I say: keep the faith. Our country and our state are too great to allow discrimination to continue on indefinitely."

A MLK County press release

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