Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Iowa couples: don't visit Washington!

Wonderful breaking news just in on this Friday morning: the Iowa Supreme Court has unanimously upheld the right of gay and lesbian couples to marry. (And if you go read the second article, don't forget to weigh in on the poll at the end.)

That's real, legal marriage, with the word "marriage" attached. Not a "separate but equal," second-class citizen half-measure like being floated in our Legislature (which, admittedly, is meant to be a gradual step towards full marriage equality).

But I implore Iowa's soon-to-be-newlywed gay and lesbian couples, don't come visit Washington on your honeymoon, because your marriage won't be recognized here.

Most people think that states have to recognize legal marriages from other states. But that's not true. In most cases, they do, but they don't have to. And in RCW 26.04.020 Prohibited Marriages,the Revised Code of Washington makes an explicit point of discriminating against gay and lesbian couples:
  1. Marriages in the following cases are prohibited:
    1. When either party thereto has a wife or husband living at the time of such marriage;

    2. When the husband and wife are nearer of kin to each other than second cousins, whether of the whole or half blood computing by the rules of the civil law; or

    3. When the parties are persons other than a male and a female.

  2. It is unlawful for any man to marry his father's sister, mother's sister, daughter, sister, son's daughter, daughter's daughter, brother's daughter or sister's daughter; it is unlawful for any woman to marry her father's brother, mother's brother, son, brother, son's son, daughter's son, brother's son or sister's son.

  3. A marriage between two persons that is recognized as valid in another jurisdiction is valid in this state only if the marriage is not prohibited or made unlawful under subsection (1)(a), (1)(c), or (2) of this section.
Take note of rules 1-c and 3. Rule 1-c bars gay and lesbian marriages. Rule 3 says that Washington doesn't care if Iowa recognizes a same-sex marriage, because we still won't grant those couples their proper civil rights.

If I were a gay person in Iowa, about to get married to my partner, I'd sure think twice about honeymooning in the Evergreen State. Because, what if something happened? What we got in an accident in our rental car, and my partner ended up in critical care in the hospital? I wouldn't be allowed to make any medical decisions on his behalf. If he recovered and was, somehow, judged to be criminally liable in the accident, I could be compelled to testify against him in court.

Sure, those are worst-case scenarios.

But they - and many more travesties of justice and common sense besides - are entirely within the realm of what Washington's antiquarian legal code allows.


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