August 4, 2006
Volume 34
Issue 31
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Wednesday, Sep 23, 2020



ERW Column - A Blow to Many of Us
ERW Column - A Blow to Many of Us
Last week's Washington State Supreme Court decision was a blow to many of us. Even our opponents expected us to win. After all, two lower-court judges had found that the state's Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was unconstitutional. The state's arguments were tired, worn statements that the purpose of marriage was procreation, and that children do better with a father and a mother. These arguments have been proven false by academics and pediatricians, and even those citing them didn't believe the justices would go for it.

You've probably read the opinions by now. If you haven't, do. Three of the five justices who found DOMA constitutional practically apologized in their opinion for what they clearly understood to be the injustice of their decision. They did not say that they believed that marriage is for procreation, only that the legislature believed it, and that they were deferential to the legislature in this matter. Many attorneys have denounced this decision as bad legal reasoning. But we can take some comfort in the knowledge that 7 out of 9 justices recognized that real LGBT families are hurt by our state's restriction on marriage.

The plurality opinion went so far as to advise the legislature to reconsider its marriage laws. The dissenting opinions were strongly worded condemnations of discrimination and homophobia. The decision was against us, and that is heartbreaking, but the sympathies were with us, and that is promising.

The media has portrayed LGBT families in a sympathetic light since last week's ruling. Television news broadcasts have highlighted the plaintiff couples and their families, emphasizing all the rights and protections they are denied. Columnists have written eloquently about the need for marriage equality.

This is progress. And this is an opportunity. As we move our efforts to the legislature, we know that we must reach out and talk with people all over the state, describing our lives and explaining how the marriage laws hurt real people. Those conversations can be difficult, but they are the key to the progress we've made in the past several decades, and they are the key to moving the legislature to support marriage equality.

This is the time to reach out to talk with neighbors, friends, co-workers, family, whether they're on your block or on the other side of the state. They're all represented by legislators in Olympia who need to hear from them in support of full marriage equality. And they've all heard about last week's decision.

When someone asks, "How are you doing?", start by saying, "I'm disappointed in the Supreme Court's ruling." From there, you can talk about what it means to you personally, whether you'd hoped to legally marry your partner, wanted to attend a friend's wedding, or simply wanted to live in a world where people are treated equally. Whatever your reason for wanting marriage equality, you have something to share.

When you identify someone as a supporter, invite them to get involved in one or more of the following ways:

o Speak to other people in their lives about the importance of marriage equality

o Join the Equal Rights Washington email list ( to stay informed about the efforts to legalize marriage for same-sex couples and other LGBT rights issues

o Call their state legislator to express their support for full marriage equality

o Host their state legislator and other constituents to talk about marriage equality (contact ERW for more information)

o Write a testimony in support of marriage equality (

o Donate to Equal Rights Washington and other organizations that are working for marriage equality and LGBT visibility, such as Pride Foundation, ACLU-WA, Northwest Women's Law Center, Lambda Legal, and Legal Marriage Alliance of Washington

o Join an Equal Rights Washington Equality Team to help educate and organize their local community

Throughout the state, heterosexuals and LGBT folks alike are angry and disappointed in the Andersen decision. We need to reach out to each of those allies and engage them in the effort to win marriage in the legislature.

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