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Washington State 'Everything But Marriage' Bill Introduced

Sen. Ed Murray (D-Seattle) and Rep. Jamie Pedersen (D-Seattle) introduced a measure in the Washington legislature yesterday that would offer same-sex couples the same rights and benefits of heterosexual married couples, the Seattle Times reports:

Pedersen_murray"The 110-page bill makes changes to all remaining areas of state law where currently only married couples are addressed. The bill would add same-sex domestic partners to state statutes ranging from labor and employment to pensions and other public employee benefits."

Said Pedersen, who is gay: "This is everything but marriage. Although we view this as an improvement that provides real and concrete protections to same-sex partners, it's an inadequate substitute for marriage. Our hope is that the continuing success of this legislation helps people understand what marriage is, and that it gets them more comfortable with treating all families with equality dignity and respect...It's entirely possible that next year, enough things might have changed that we feel like it's time to make a run at the marriage bill. We're not there now. But it's not out of the question."

Murray and Pedersen are two of six openly gay members of the Washington legislature.

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Comments

  1. Gay marriage should be passed. Ok so if gay sex partners can recieve benefits without a committment of marriage then you are discriminating against boyfriend and girlfriend benefits.

    Posted by: duane harrison | Jan 28, 2009 10:45:38 AM


  2. Sounds exactly the same as the UK legislation "...Civil Partnership Act 2004 gives same-sex couples rights and responsibilities identical to civil marriage...". That seems to work for us: there are very few calls within the gay communty to push for full marriage (though there are some), and many happy civil-partnershipped couples I know.

    Posted by: JonathanW | Jan 28, 2009 11:09:00 AM


  3. If the legality of civil partnerships are guaranteed to be equal in every way, shape, and form to marriage then I have no problem with civil union partnerships. I would prefer that it be on the Federal level so I could have the same opportunity to relocate if I so desire without jeopardizing any benefits I have in NJ.

    I have performed three civil unions in NJ so far and I assure you the brides and grooms were no less happy with the occasion.

    Posted by: JerzeeMike | Jan 28, 2009 11:29:38 AM


  4. Here in Seattle, we're so proud of Jamie and Ed. They're great!

    Posted by: seattle mike | Jan 28, 2009 12:14:27 PM


  5. There's a deeply ingrained respect for the "consensus model" of governance in most EU countries. That is, you wait your turn without making too much of a fuss about it. And if the government says civil partnerships are good enough, then they certainly must be.

    Many European gays consider such the tactics of American queer liberation way too confrontational for their tastes. They would argue that our propensity for ligitation, protests, and anti-religious rethoric merely adds fuel to the fire. Of course, this stems from the fact that they're conformists at heart.

    And they simply don't have a good grasp of our history of struggle. Because of our puritanical and fundamentalist nature, change has always come hard to America. And rarely does it come without blood, sweat, and tears. What I would say to our European friends is, you don't live in a society where 62% are Biblical literalists without becoming a little militant yourself. Gays in America don't have it easy. So, they're more sensitive to semantics and symbolism.

    Posted by: John in CA | Jan 28, 2009 12:18:37 PM


  6. Once again the marriage that dare not speak its name.

    So far every court that has specifically looked at this issue (MA, CA, CT) has found that a different status can only mean second-class citizenship.

    The situation is not equivalent to UK until it is at the national level. That's the problem with a patchwork of CU/DP benefits -- none of them are recognized at the federal level, and one has precious little standing to demand that they be recognized when they have crazy newfangled euphemistic names. Everybody knows what marriages are.

    Posted by: Kevinvt | Jan 28, 2009 12:26:01 PM


  7. JOHN IN CA - get a clue. You just posted a whole heap of condescension. I love how you lump the entire EU together as a monolithic group, completely ignoring the diversity of thought and politics in the bloc.

    "...and if the government says civil partnerships enough, then they certainly must be." Which country are you referring to? The UK? If that's what you mean then say so. Unlike in the US where many of the major equalisers of the past 100 years have been handed down from the bench (Brown v Board, Loving v Virginia, Roe vs. Wade, striking down sodomy laws) while it's wonderful that they were overturned, European countries tend to make those changes by legislation and specific constitutional change, so we tend not to have potential situations like GWB putting his buddies on the SCOTUS and getting rid of abortion. You can argue the merits of judicial versus legislative change til the cows come home, but please do so without spitting your bile on us poor olde worlde fooles, m'lud.

    "Many European gays consider such the tactics of American queer liberation way too confrontational for their tastes. They would argue that our propensity for ligitation, protests, and anti-religious rethoric merely adds fuel to the fire. Of course, this stems from the fact that they're conformists at heart." Who? Which gays? In which countries? Vague statements that any fool could conjure up. I'm amazed how some liberals eat up the old Republican tripe of weak-minded Eurotrash who do whatever their governments say. Sheesh.

    "And they simply don't have a good grasp of our history of struggle. Because of our puritanical and fundamentalist nature, change has always come hard to America. And rarely does it come without blood, sweat, and tears. What I would say to our European friends is, you don't live in a society where 62% are Biblical literalists without becoming a little militant yourself. Gays in America don't have it easy. So, they're more sensitive to semantics and symbolism." While you're right that we're often bemused by the religiosity of your people, I disagree that we don't understand - at least most homos I know seem to - and most European gays that I know also desire full marriage. The only ones I've heard say differently are guys from the UK. So if you want to wax lyrical about the ignorant and insular notions of gays abroad, maybe confine it to the Brits. Thankseversomucholdchap.

    Posted by: altona | Jan 28, 2009 12:51:02 PM


  8. Where did you get "weak minded" from "consensus model" and "conformist"? I never claimed Europeans were weak minded.

    All I said was there's a tendency within the EU system to accept compromise in the interest of maintaining a united front and social harmony. This isn't a radical departure from the policy speeches of Solana, Blair, Sarkozy, or Merkel. As any one country can exercise its right to veto and scuttle the whole project, you have to reach a 27 member consensus to get anything done. That's simply a reality of the system.

    At the national level, the propensity towards coalition or minority government also acts as a moderating force. It is "conformist" in that sense. But that doesn't mean different viewpoints aren't well represented. Or that people aren't passionate about their politics. Rather, it merely implies that the government buys into and co-opts oppositional movements as part of their own agenda. The Green movement, for example, was a junior partner in Germany's goverment. And they're current operating in Ireland on the same premise.

    Posted by: John in CA | Jan 28, 2009 1:40:16 PM


  9. Hey -- Jamie and I used to work at the same law firm! (He was in Seattle, I was in L.A.) It's exciting to see he made the big time.

    The problem with the "everything but marriage" approach is that it can weaken support of marriage. That was part of the Prop 8 strategy: the Yes campaign argued that California's domestic partnership laws are so strong, there are no legal benefits to marriage that domestic partners don't already have. So people could vote Yes while thinking that they weren't actually discriminating or taking away any tangible rights or benefits. It is true that domestic partnership is very close to marriage in CA, but there are both legal and intangible differences (putting aside the lack of any federal recognition or benefits).

    Similarly, in AZ, voters rejected a Constitutional amendment against gay marriage because it also outlawed recognition of civil unions. When they were presented with an amendment that only banned marriage, they passed it.

    So it seems like when it comes to a choice between providing no benefits and all and providing full marriage rights, people would support marriage -- but when the choice is providing "everything but marriage" and marriage, they'll choose "everything but." This isn't to say we necessarily should try an "all or nothing" approach, but I think it's naive to think that starting off with providing "separate but mostly equal" benefits is going to make people more inclined to move towards fully equality down the road.

    Posted by: Brian | Jan 28, 2009 1:41:59 PM


  10. Instead of addressing the issues you regurgitated a pseudo-intellectual bit of spam.

    ''Where did you get "weak minded" from "consensus model" and "conformist"? I never claimed Europeans were weak minded.'' - are you trying to argue that calling someone a conformist is not tantamount to calling them weak-minded? Talking about how ''if the government says civil partnerships are good enough, then they certainly must be.'' Charming.

    ''All I said was there's a tendency within the EU system to accept compromise in the interest of maintaining a united front and social harmony.'' Where did you say it? Perhaps you accidentally deleted it and replaced it with the tosh demeaning European gays par hazard?

    ''As any one country can exercise its right to veto and scuttle the whole project, you have to reach a 27 member consensus to get anything done. That's simply a reality of the system.'' Are you kidding? What "project"? Do you have even a basic understanding of how the EU works? Or are you basing all of this on the fact that Ireland voted no to the Treaty of Lisbon? last time I checked every US state had a say in adopting the US constitution as well. Are you honestly trying to say that the EU's day-to-day activities are subject to a 27-way veto system? We must be some super-consensual peeps if so.

    ''At the national level, the propensity towards coalition or minority government also acts as a moderating force. It is "conformist" in that sense.'' So you're confusing conforming with co-operating? Last time I checked there was bi-partisan action going on across the 50 states too.

    I get what you're trying to say and I'm genuinely not trying to nitpick, but your first comment was essentially pissing on Europeans for no apparent reason other than you being misinformed.

    Posted by: altona | Jan 28, 2009 3:09:12 PM


  11. Just a reminder to everyone that the state of New Jersey tried this and, in a follow-up study of the effects, found it didn't work. The Commission has, therefore, recommended that civil union legislation be scrapped and that marriage be available to everyone.

    Posted by: silverkjk | Jan 28, 2009 4:21:34 PM


  12. While I'm a strong supporter of marriage (in word and deed) I'm very happy that Jamie and Ed have introduced this legislation. The WA Supreme Court in 1996 fallaciously ruled in a split decision that the state law banning same sex marriage was acceptable (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Same-sex_marriage_in_Washington). We do not have a constitutional amendment. I think this step is sensible as a way to move forward with less likelihood of provoking an amendment (and, frankly, our state budget and jobs situation has people otherwise occupied).

    We got Domestic Partnership registration two years ago, and increase in rights last year, now this. The trajectory is clear and the opposition muted at best.

    Yay Jamie and Ed!

    Our governor, who is pro-choice, pro-gay, and Catholic, has announced previously that she supports same-sex marriage.

    Go Christine!

    Posted by: David R. | Jan 28, 2009 4:29:35 PM


  13. You're clearly very upset for some reason. I didn't realize consensus was so contentious. But I don't think I've said anything about Europe that haven't been said many times before, so I suspect your petulant attitude has more to do with your own insecurities than anything else.

    In any case, JonathanW has created an unnecessary tangent.

    I think this is a good move by the Washington State Legislature. Although Washington is the only state in the West where voters haven't passed a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage, there's no point in tempting fate. It is clear that marriage equality will not be achieved in a state where voters are allowed to place initiatives on the ballot to take away civil rights (at least for the moment).

    Referendums are either not allowed or must have legislative approval to qualify in many Northeastern and Midwestern states. So, that's probably where we should take the battle next: New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Rhode Island, Vermont, Illinois, Minnesota, and perhaps even Iowa.

    Posted by: John in CA | Jan 28, 2009 6:31:53 PM


  14. You're clearly very upset for some reason. I didn't realize consensus was so contentious. But I don't think I've said anything about Europe that haven't been said many times before, so I suspect your petulant attitude has more to do with your own insecurities than anything else.

    In any case, JonathanW has created an unnecessary tangent.

    I think this is a good move by the Washington State Legislature. Although Washington is the only state in the West where voters haven't passed a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage, there's no point in tempting fate. It is clear that marriage equality will not be achieved in a state where voters are allowed to place initiatives on the ballot to take away civil rights (at least for the moment).

    Referendums are either not allowed or must have legislative approval to qualify in many Northeastern and Midwestern states. So, that's probably where we should take the battle next: New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Rhode Island, Vermont, Illinois, Minnesota, and perhaps even Iowa.

    Posted by: John in CA | Jan 28, 2009 6:33:14 PM


  15. if it is just like marriage == why not call it marriage? Seems stupid to me.

    Posted by: David B. | Jan 28, 2009 9:13:16 PM


  16. @john in ca - lol, thanks for reassuring me that your arguments are as vacuous as I suspected. Calling someone insecure is only a brainfart away from Godwin's Law, so congratulations on that.

    You completely failed to address anything I challenged you on and instead tried to reform the notion of the argument; it was never about the idea of consensus, but rather your puerile comments about European ignorance of US LGBT struggles, supposed government control and eurogays taking whatever they're given and liking it. Any petulance on my part is due to your condescending tone towards Europe and your attempt to lecture us on a political system that you've proven you don't even understand at a basic level. It's ridiculous when Europeans show unfounded disdain for the US, and the same is true in reverse.

    Posted by: ALTONA | Jan 29, 2009 6:52:21 AM


  17. I'd be happy with the exact same benefits and not have the states call it a marriage. I do agree that it should be Federal that way we have nation wide benefits. I'll call it a marriage. My family will call it a marraige.My friends will call it a marriage. I really don't need the federal government deciding what to call my relationship. I do expect the same rights given to married people but if everyone who matters sees my relationship as a marriage, who cares? Calling it marriage is not going to change the fundamentalists so they finally say, "OK, I guess you're alright."

    Posted by: BC | Jan 29, 2009 8:59:22 AM


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