gay marriage

Rita Hibbard's picture

Domestic partnership registrations are way up in Washington since election

More couples are registering for domestic partnerships in Washington state since voters approved the state’s “everything but marriage” law last month, becoming the first state in the  nation to vote rights for same-sex couples.

rita_hibbardwebThe new law takes effect today, providing expanded rights and responsibilities for same sex couples and some senior couples, including bereavement leave, health care coverage regulated by the state and medical decision making. Seattlepi.com's Chris Grygiel reports a big increase in filings since the election – an average of about 90 a week – up from about 35 to 40 previously.

Other state laws giving rights to domestic partners were approved by legislatures or courts.

Rita Hibbard's picture

Washington domestic partnership law passing; Maine same-sex marriage law losing

rita_hibbardwebIt may be that if you call the union "marriage," it loses at the ballot box. Washington voters are appearing to approve a domestic partnership law that gives same-sex couples all the benefits of marriage without the label, while Maine voters are turning down a gay marriage law.

The Washington domestic partnership ballot measure was leading narrowly statewide as ballots were counted Tuesday night, the Seattle Times reports, and leading strongly in King County returns. The measure, a referendum on a law passed earlier this year by the Legislature, was doing well in the metropolitan Puget Sound area, and being rejected in the more rural areas of eastern Washington.

The Maine vote is widely considered a stinging defeat to gay marriage advocates, especially because it occurred in New England, which has been more receptive to other areas of the country to same-sex unions. It follows on the heels of a similar pattern in California, where voters overturned a gay marriage law at the ballot box last year.

The New York Times reports:

"With the repeal of the same-sex marriage law, Maine became the 31st state to reject same-sex marriage at the ballot box. Five other states — Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, New Hampshire and Vermont — have legalized same-sex marriage, but only through court rulings and legislative action.

-- Rita Hibbard

Rita Hibbard's picture

'Gay studies' in the schools used to 'swift boat' the same-sex partnership and marriage debates in Washington and Maine

rita_hibbardwebWashington state isn’t the only state with a gay marriage or partnership issue on the ballot. In Maine, voters are deciding whether to repeal the state’s new same-sex marriage law. Supporters of the new law are hoping that gay couples there don’t lose the right to marry just six months after they gained it, just like they did in California last year.

As in Maine, voters in Washington are being asked whether they want to keep a new law on the books. The Washington law establishes a gay domestic partnership, the so-called “everything but marriage” law.

In Washington, the fight is getting down and dirty, and opponents of the gay domestic partnership law are now warning that if Ref. 71 is approved, it will lead to gay studies in public schools, KUOW reporter Austin Jenkins reports.

The Reject 71 campaign says the new law will allow public schools “to teach that gay marriage is normal and healthy whether parents approve or not."

But Rep. Jamie Pederson, a gay lawmaker who sponsored the domestic partnership bill in the House, says there is no language in the bill about schools. What gets taught in the classroom is up to local schoolboards, says Pedersen, who has four children with his partner.

Obama plays twister with gay marriage stance

With a waving campaign hand, President Barack Obama beckoned to gay voters.  He promised to undo a Clinton-era law blinding the federal government to gay marriage and allowing states to ignore same-sex marriages sanctioned by their peer governments.

But with a presidential gesture, Obama has supported his Justice Department's efforts to throw out a gay couple's lawsuit challenging the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA.

His administration's lawyers argue that the Constitution sanctions preventing gay couples from securing the benefits usually accorded to married people, such as Social Security spousal benefits and filing joint taxes.  Doing otherwise wouldn't be fair to taxpayers of the 30 states that specifically prohibit same-sex marriages, they say.

The San Francisco Chronicle published the article by Devlin Barrett of the Associated Press which quotes Obama's statement and the papers his administration filed in a California court.

In them, Obama walks a tightrope between defending the law and offending his gay constituency.

The president said his administration's stance in a California court case is not about defending traditional marriage, but is instead about defending traditional legal practice.

Department lawyers are defending the law "as it traditionally does when acts of Congress are challenged," Obama said in a statement.

"The United States does not believe that DOMA is rationally related to any legitimate government interests in procreation and child-rearing and is therefore not relying upon any such interests to defend DOMA's constitutionality," lawyers argued in the filing.