Washington State to Legalize Gay Marriage
Washington House Passes Same-Sex Marriage Bill, Gov. Chris Gregoire Will Sign
The Washington state House has passed a bill to legalize same-sex marriage in a vote of 55-43. Rep. Maureen Walsh (R-Walla Walla) crossed the aisle to vote in favor of gay marriage- her speech is what everyone's talking about, and you can see it below.
Governor Christine Gregoire already said she'd sign legislation approving same-sex marriage, but opponents are already gearing up for a referendum drive in November.
“This country was not founded on sexual liberty, Mr. Speaker, but on religious liberty,” said Rep. Matt Shea, R-Spokane Valley. Shea declared that his family’s floral business will never work a same-sex wedding.
Rep. Norma Smith, R-Clinton, claimed that small businesses “have the potential to be silenced” and that business owners would be “unable to exercise their freedom of expression” if the bill passed in its present form.
We have to quickly correct Matt Shea on this one: the Puritans were indeed fleeing persecution, but did not come to America to promote religious freedom; they wanted theirs to be the dominant religion. There's a fundamental (as it were) difference between the two ideals: just ask the Quakers from the Massachusetts Bay Colony.
Opponents of same-sex marriage, unable to successfully argue in terms of civil rights, generally stick with the religious argument. In Washington, those opposing the legalization of gay marriage say that their own religious freedom is being trampled.
This argument doesn't make quite sense: it's not clear how someone who believes in the one-man-one-woman marriage definition would have his or her rights affected in any way by a neighbor's same-sex marriage. "Religious freedom" does not mean "the right to tell everyone else what to do".
(This counter-argument is the same one used by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in striking down Prop 8.)