It’s about time that another state steps forward and does the equally right thing to do!
posted Friday, January 30, 2009 – Volume 37 Issue 05
|Senator Murray and Representative Pedersen introduce Domestic Partnership expansion bill|
| by Nick Ardizzone – SGN Staff WriterOn January 28, State Senator Ed Murray announced the next incremental expansion to Washington’s Domestic Partnership Bill. The latest expansion, which will be heard in the House and Senate on February 5, hopes to grant domestic partnerships all the remaining rights which were excluded from the first two bills, making civil unions equal to heterosexual marriage.
In attendance to support the bill were representatives for Equal Rights Washington, the ACLU of Washington, the Pride Foundation, and the Greater Seattle Business Association.
LEGISLATURE “ON BOARD”
He brightened when he spoke of the opposition to the domestic partnership bills. “The most remarkable thing about this bill is that it’s unremarkable,” said Murray. “Instead of the cultural wars that we have seen year after year, going back to the civil rights bill, we see a legislature that is mostly on board in moving forward and protecting all Washington’s families.” The bill has seen great support in the House.
Murray vowed to continue to fight for equality in Washington. “It’s not marriage, but it is everything that heterosexual families have in this state currently,” he said. “And while we need these protections, ultimately we will not be protected as Americans across this nation unless we achieve full marriage equality.”
Not all aspects of the bill will become active immediately. “Some of the financial impacts of this bill, such as pensions for those of us who are state employees, will be deferred to at least 2012, in hopes that by then that this very serious depression or recession & will have ended,” Murray said.
“EXACTLY THE SAME”
He explained how the first year of the domestic partnership bill focused on granting same-sex couples a basic 23 rights and obligations, while the second year dealt with economic and property rights. “This year, we’re repeating that process by adding nearly 300 rights and obligations & to make sure that our families are treated exactly the same.”
Nearly 5,000 couples from across Washington have registered with the Secretary of State’s office for partnerships.
VOICES FROM HOME
“We’d like our daughter to grow up knowing that our family is as valued as any other family in our community,” said Margaret Hobart, who has been in a relationship with her partner for 20 years.
Police officer Adrienne Purcella rose with her partner, Libby Cope. “Should something ever happen to me on the job, with the passage of this bill, I now know Libby would be taken care of, and that she would have the same protections as any other police officer’s spouse,” Purcella said, her voice cracking with emotion.
Seattle attorney Vickie Wallin spoke, holding her 7-year-old son, Sam, in her arms. “Even though we’ll have equal rights, we won’t have full marriage equality until we have marriage equality,” she said. “It may not seem like a distinction of much difference, but today me and Sam were talking & and what he said was that if we’re not able to get married, what it’s really saying is that families with two moms or two dads, there shouldn’t be such families.
“We can do much better, she said. “What I’m really hoping is this last step will be the final step before full marriage equality for same-sex couples in our state.”
BRIEF DOORS OF OPPORTUNITY
“Men and women across Washington State have embraced a historic standard that discrimination based on a person’s sexual orientation has no place in this community. And now, we as Washingtonians must pull together for the further establishment of fair, common-sense principles that strengthen domestic partnership rights and offer benefits for same-sex couples.”
“Gay and Lesbian Americans in the past few years have entered into marriage through brief doors of opportunity, pledging their lives with and to one another,” he said. “Let’s be unambiguous in our discussion of this issue. Words are extremely important. Marriage is the word, and civil marriage is the goal.”
“What we know is what we’ve known for a long time: Separate is not equal, and we will go for equality.”
YEARS, NOT DECADES
A member of the audience asked, “If this passes, what comes next?” “Marriage,” Murray said, laughing.
Pederson, smiling, stepped in to clarify. “The purpose of this legislation is to talk about how our families are harmed concretely by their exclusion from civil marriage, so that’s the conversation we expect to continue. We hope that, sooner rather than later, we’ll be here talking about a marriage bill.”
Murray, who has championed civil rights in Olympia for years, put the fight into perspective. “It will take some years, but it will not take the 29 years the civil rights bill took. I think this is a multi-year effort, not a multi-decade effort.”