Referendum 74 – Let’s have an honest discussion on Washington’s Freedom to Marry law

Hearts

Let’s have an honest debate on R74.

I respect those who come to authentic alternative conclusions from my own, but I do not respect many of the opponents of Referendum 74 who deliberately try to mislead and scare voters.  When you examine the facts – regardless of your religious persuasion, desire to enter into a marriage yourself, or your opinions on the ideal  child-rearing environment – the conclusion is clear.  Washington voters should vote to APPROVE R74.

Opponents of R74 do not position their arguments with objections to the law up for a vote.  Instead, they engage in scare tactics and discussions that have nothing to do with Referendum 74.  A generous interpretation would be that they have not read the law and are ignorant.  A more likely interpretation is they fear that they cannot win their argument by being authentic, so they resort to manipulative and false witness.  Let’s have an honest discussion on R74 and ground ourselves in reality and facts.

Washington State today already allows adoption of children by same-sex couples.  R74 will not change this, regardless of its outcome.  What will change if R74 is approved is that children being raised by all couples in our state will have the right to live under the stability and security of married parents.  Not all children today are allowed this right.  If opponents want to have a discussion on adoption laws in our state, let’s have that discussion – it just has no place as part of the R74 debate.

Washington State today also already has non-discrimination laws in force.  R74 will not change this, regardless of its outcome.  If we want to have a discussion around letting discrimination take a wider hold in our state, let’s have that discussion, too.  It just has no place as part of the R74 debate.   Let’s be authentic in our discourse!

So what is R74 actually about, then?  It is a law passed by the legislature and signed by the governor that allows all couples in Washington the freedom to marry.  The law explicitly protects all religious organizations – not only houses of worship, but also religiously-affiliated social service organizations broadly serving the public.  None of these will be required to recognize, perform, or rent space for marriages they choose not to embrace.  They are explicitly exempt from being sued and the law even says that these religious protections are to be “interpreted liberally” by the courts.

The fact is that many religious traditions and individual ministers want and pray for the right to perform weddings for those same-sex couples in their pews every Sunday.  Voting to approve R74 is a vote FOR religious freedom.  Just because some religious groups do not want to perform these marriages does not mean they have the right to impose their religious beliefs on all members of the public.  We live in a civil society where religious freedom is one of our most precious rights.  No group has the right to force its own religious beliefs on the broader civil society at large, nor does it have the right to prevent other religions from choosing how to express and celebrate their own faith traditions.

I urge all Washington voters to Approve Referendum 74.  This will be a vote in support of the freedom to marry the person you love, as well as a vote for religious freedom.  We should be encouraging and supporting all couples who strive to make a life-long commitment together.  Approve R74.

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