On Wednesday evening, Washington state Senators passed a bill that would legalize same-sex marriage. The House and Gov. Christine Gregoire are expected to also pass the bill, which would then make Washington the seventh state to legalize gay marriage.
Since Governor Christine Gregoire first threw her support behind the legislation, 97.3 KIRO FM's hosts have been debating the issues on air and in their blogs, revealing that there are many more facets to a same-sex union than a yes or no vote.
Opening the door for the unknown
As it stands in Washington, marriage is defined as a union between a man and a woman. If the government can change the language so that marriage can be a union between two men or two women, how are they going to change the language so that it doesn't open up the door for even more combinations?
That is Dori Monson's concern. He talked to Pastor Ken Hutcherson at the Antioch Bible Church in Kirkland about the possible ambiguity the legislation could inspire. In fact, Dori talked about the slippery slope with a woman who married a building on Sunday. Babylonia Aivaz wants to save the 10th and Union Warehouse on Capitol Hill and she believed a wedding ceremony was a good way to call attention to her cause. Right now, Aivaz's marriage seems to be a publicity stunt, but what if the definition was changed and she gained some type of legal rights?
Dori has said that he is not against civil unions, but given the uncertainty that lies ahead if the law is changed, marriage should remain defined as one man, one woman.
The wrong side of history
A common argument against same-sex marriage is based on religion, as Hutcherson discussed with Dori. According to Ron Upshaw, if you're using religion as a guide, you may end up on "the wrong side of history," once the law changes.
Fighting for the morality of marriage shouldn't start with a definition. Instead, Ron believes religious leaders should make efforts to outlaw adultery and divorce, the real threats to marriage.
He thinks hiding behind the semantics of marriage is a cop-out. Gay marriages may lead to gay divorces because it's it's not that same-sex marriages will be any better or different than marriages are now. If you're arguing about semantics, you might be disguising your disapproval of homosexuality altogether.
In November, candidates will have to defend their positions
John Curley sides with Ron, if there is an issue with marriage, it's not about who is marrying who. "[Legalizing same-sex marriage] won't do anything to destroy what you have right now, you can do that completely on your own by not communicating wholly and honestly with one another."
Instead, Curley wonders why it is only now becoming an issue in our state, and his theory is that it has everything to do with the gubernatorial election. Gregoire has put the issue out there and will walk away leaving current Attorney General and Republican candidate for governor Rob McKenna to defend his position against Democratic candidate Jay Inslee.
While Gregoire no longer has to face debates, elections and her constituents, but other state lawmakers will be forced to defend their positions. Curley thinks no matter what a lawmaker votes, they will face concerned constituents.
"It's something that you want to take cover on if you come from a place where constituents have a real problem with [how they voted.]"
Who should decide if Washington state should recognize gay marriage?
Groups opposing same-sex marriage are already preparing referendums they hope will be included on a November ballot. If included on a ballot, voters will get a chance to redefine marriage.
But is the right to marry an individual's right? The right of an individual should not be subject to the majority, according to KTTH's David Boze. If it is an individual right, then a state Senate vote on Wednesday is the right way to decide the legality of same-sex marriage.
Boze says that while you may have the right to marry, the right to redefine what marriage is not an individual's, so, it should instead be included on a ballot.
The consequences of the same-sex marriage bill passing in the Legislature
Dave Ross and Luke Burbank listened to speakers from a January debate in Olympia that addressed discrimination, and one argument stood out for them: What of those who work in the wedding industry that disagree with same-sex marriage? Could they be sued for refusing services at a same-sex wedding ceremony?
Dave and Luke found a conservative florist who does weddings in Iowa - where same-sex marriage has been legal since April 2009. Elaine, from Down to Earth Florists told Dave and Luke "Their money is green too,". She has already worked at same-sex weddings, and before that, commitment ceremonies. If it came to an instance where she would prefer to turn a wedding down, for whatever reason, she would just say that she's unavailable on that given day.
But, a couple probably doesn't want someone to work for them if they're not going to do a good job at the wedding anyway.
In the hands of the Washington state Senate
The bill to legalize same-sex marriage now goes to the state House for approval. Both the House and Gov. Gregoire are expected to pass the bill.
Opponents can't file a challenge until the bill is passed by the full Legislature and signed into law by Gregoire. They then must turn in 120,577 signatures by June 6 to get a referendum on the November ballot. If opponents don't meet the deadline, same-sex couples will be able to wed in June. Otherwise, they'll have to wait until the results of the November election.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.