Thursday, January 29, 2009

Same-Sex Rights in Washington State

Add Washington to the list of states working to expand the rights of same-sex couples. On Wednesday, the state announced plans to give the same rights given to heterosexual married couples to same-sex domestic partners.

The proposed Bill would amend the current state law to include same-sex domestic partners in sections where currently only married couples are addressed. All state statutes dealing with married couples would be amended; such sections range from “labor and employment to pensions and other public employee benefits.” Previously, lawmakers had been successful in adding protections for same-sex domestic couples to areas of law including probate, trust, community property, guardianships and power of attorney.

As expected, those opposing this latest measure claim that this Bill will only further the move towards same-sex marriage. These opponents claim that sanctioning same-sex marriage will dilute traditional marriages. A separate measure to legalize same-sex marriage in the state has in fact been introduced, “but is unlikely to go anywhere this year.”

When it comes to this type of legislation, one thing always seems to strike me: the opponents’ claim that same-sex marriage will dilute their own heterosexual marriage. Even mentioning same-sex marriage or providing similar protections to same-sex domestic partners, as Washington is attempting to do, brings out those who claim that any such expansion of rights makes traditional marriage less “pure”. The granting of such rights should not affect the quality of another’s relationship; whether it’s an interracial marriage, a marriage of two people with a wide age gap (granted there is no other illegality such as undue influence) or a same-sex marriage, the overall quality will remain the same.

Additionally, the main crux of this Washington Bill is to provide similar rights to same-sex domestic couples. While it may lead to the legalization of same-sex marriage, it will not necessarily do so. This will merely entitle same-sex domestic partners to enjoy employment benefits that heterosexual couples already receive. It will allow same-sex couples to exercise these rights with the force of the law supporting them, instead of having to fight to receive these benefits. If a state is to recognize a same-sex domestic partnership or marriage, it is only right that they are provided applicable rights under the state law.

For the complete article, click here.

No comments: