Great news this afternoon: We finally have the votes to pass marriage equality in the Washington State Legislature!
Minutes ago, Senator Mary Margaret Haugen — who had previously said she was only willing to support putting the issue on the ballot for a public vote — reversed her position and decided to join the forces of equality.
I have received many letters, emails, phone calls, very heartfelt, from both sides of the issue. I’ve also received a number of very negative comments from both sides.
For some people, this is a simple issue. I envy them. It has not been simple or easy for me.
To some degree, this is generational. Years ago I took exception to my parents’ beliefs on certain social issues, and today my children take exception to some of mine. Times change, even if it makes us uncomfortable. I think we should all be uncomfortable sometime. None of us knows everything, and it’s important to have our beliefs questioned. Only one being in this world is omniscient, and it’s not me.
I have very strong Christian beliefs, and personally I have always said when I accepted the Lord, I became more tolerant of others. I stopped judging people and try to live by the Golden Rule. This is part of my decision. I do not believe it is my role to judge others, regardless of my personal beliefs. It’s not always easy to do that. For me personally, I have always believed in traditional marriage between a man and a woman. That is what I believe, to this day.
But this issue isn’t about just what I believe. It’s about respecting others, including people who may believe differently than I. It’s about whether everyone has the same opportunities for love and companionship and family and security that I have enjoyed.
Senator Haugen deserves a lot of credit for being willing to rethink her stance. Those of us at NPI who are Christians don’t believe that legalizing marriage equality is at odds with the teachings of Jesus Christ.
But even if it were (as many fundamentalists incorrectly argue it is), America is a nation founded on the separation of church and state.
That separation is what guarantees us our religious freedom.
Each religion certainly is within its rights to decide on its own definition of marriage. But it is immoral and improper for government to dictate who can marry whom. LGBT couples in committed relationships who want to marry should have the freedom to do so. Marriage equality is a matter of equal rights under the law. We are very glad to see that Senator Haugen has recognized that.
So is Senator Ed Murray.
“I want to thank Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen for her decision today,” Murray said in a statement of his own. “I know that she takes her responsibility to her constituents and their communities very seriously. I know she listens to them. Her stand on an issue that is both so personal and so contentious in every community is truly courageous. I believe Sen. Haugen has shown the upmost in thoughtfulness and consideration – and her decision means families across our state may step out of a special second class and into equality this year.”
We at NPI welcome the news that marriage equality now has the votes to pass both the House and the Senate. In a matter of weeks, we hope to see it signed into law by Governor Chris Gregoire. That will be a great day.
We fully expect that the religious right will launch a referendum campaign to put the issue on the ballot in November of 2012. We will do our part to urge voters to uphold the law in the event they are successful in forcing a vote.