Archive for Same sex marriage

Bill would allow businesses to refuse services based on religious beliefs

By | April 26, 2013 | 0 Comments

Sen. Sharon Brown

Republican Sen. Sharon Brown of Kennewick has introduced a new bill allowing businesses to refuse service to customers due to their religious beliefs, drawing sharp criticism from some Senate Democrats.

Senate Bill 5927 would protect the “right of an individual or entity to deny services” if providing those services is contrary to their “sincerely held religious beliefs, philosophical beliefs, or matters of conscience.”

Last month, a florist in Richland refused to provide provide flowers for the same-sex wedding of Robert Ingersoll and Curt Freed. The florist, Barronelle Stutzman, now faces legal action from both the state attorney general’s office and the American Civil Liberties Union for declining to provide flowers.

Stutzman has maintained that her refusal was because of her religious beliefs. Her attorney has said that Stutzman’s actions are protected by constitutional right to freedom of speech, association and religious exercise.

Ten Republicans have signed on as co-sponsors of the legislation. The proposal drew a strong rebuke this week from Senate Democrats.

Sen. Kevin Ranker (D – Orcas Island) called the bill a “license to hate” in a press release issued Friday. And Senate Democratic leader Ed Murray said, in a press release of his own, that the bill is an attempt to “undo basic civil rights protections.”

“The whole notion that a business should have the right to discriminate against it’s customers is abhorrent,” Murray said.

There are only two days left in regular session, which ends Sunday. But Brown said in a press release that the measure could be considered during a special session or in the 2014 session.

Attorney General says florist lawsuit could go to state Supreme Court

By | April 11, 2013 | 0 Comments

Earlier this week Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed a lawsuit against a florist in Richland who refused to provide flowers for a same-sex wedding ceremony. On Thursday, Ferguson told “Inside Olympia” host Austin Jenkins that the florist violated the state’s consumer protection laws that protect against discrimination.

“Whether you are running a restaurant, or whether you sell flowers, when you have a public accommodation in that sense, you’re not allowed to discriminate,” said Ferguson. “If you choose to sell flowers to a heterosexual couple for their wedding, you can’t refuse to sell flowers to a same-sex couple.”

According to the Tri-City Herald, Robert Ingersoll and his partner, Curt Freed, went to Arlene’s Flowers to buy arrangements for their wedding. The shop’s owner, Barronelle Stutzman, refused to sell to the couple because of her religious beliefs.

Ferguson said that he had originally hoped to resolve the case informally, and started by sending the florist a letter asking her to simply state that she would no longer refuse service to same-sex couples. He said that if she had agreed with that, there would have been no fees or costs to her. However, she hired a lawyer to contest the claim, and Ferguson said that he had no choice but to continue with the lawsuit.

The attorneys for Stuzman deny that she is in violation of the law, and argue that she is exercising her First Amendment rights.

Ferguson said the case may be one that sets a new precedent.

“The issue around sexual orientation and marriage equality is a contested one around the country and the state,” said Ferguson. “I think it does up the ante that, potentially, it could go to the state Supreme Court.”

For the full interview, click on the video below. Jenkins also interviews Rep. Ross Hunter about the House’s budget proposal and state Capitol reporters, Jerry Cornfield of the Everett Herald and Jordan Schrader of the Tacoma News Tribune.

On ‘Legislative Review’: Public testimony on the budget and conversion therapy

By | April 5, 2013 | 0 Comments

We have highlights from Wednesday night’s public hearing on the budget on the most recent edition of “Legislative Review.” People lined up to testify on everything from the parks system to education during the hearing that lasted more than five hours. Plus, discussion of a bill that would study “conversion therapy” — a controversial practice that attempts to change the sexual orientation of gays and lesbians.

After 53 years together, couple finally gets to wed as gay marriage becomes legal

By | December 6, 2012 | 0 Comments

Rudy Henry holds up a card showing he's first in line for a marriage license

In 1958, Rudy Henry met John McCluskey at a New Year’s Eve party in San Francisco.

That’s the part they can agree on.

“We dated awhile before moving in together,” Rudy said.

“That’s not true,” John said. “It was love at first sight. He came to the party with someone else, but he left with me.”

That was more than 50 years ago.

Today, they were the first couple in line at the Pierce County Auditor’s Office to get their marriage license on the day same-sex marriage became legal in Washington State.

The office opened early at 6:30 a.m. to accommodate the 27 couples who wanted to be among the first in the county to get their marriage licenses. Deputy auditor Lori Augino said the office expected 150 couples before the end of the day.

Rudy, who is 78 years old and in a wheelchair because of a stroke, was so excited he had trouble sleeping the night before. Still, he had mixed emotions about the day.

“What’s sad about this is that I’m an American citizen, and so are my parents,” Rudy said. “But I was denied things that were never denied other people — the benefits of being a citizen in this country.”

“We never, ever thought we would ever get to this day,” said John, 76.


Gov. Gregoire signs same-sex marriage law

By | December 5, 2012 | 0 Comments

Gov. Chris Gregoire and Secretary of State Sam Reed certified Referendum 74 at a ceremony on Wednesday afternoon, granting gay and lesbian couples the right to marry in Washington state.

“We’ve said one more step, one more step,” Gregoire said before signing the law, which takes effect Thursday. “This is the last step for marriage equality in Washington state.”

Terry Virgona and her partner, Marcy Kulland, were at the signing ceremony. They plan to wed on Sept. 28, 2013 — their 21st anniversary.

“I”m ecstatic,” said Virgona, a retired Army nurse. “I never thought this would happen.”

Categories: Same sex marriage

Opponents of same-sex marriage concede defeat

By | November 8, 2012 | 0 Comments

Opponents of same-sex marriage conceded defeated today, blaming secular voters in Washington and a financial disadvantage.

“Washington has a very high percentage of voters who never attend church, and polling showed that 80 percent of unchurched voters approved of Referendum 74. On top of that, our opponents had a giant financial advantage, outspending us by $10 million, so the odds became even more difficult,” said Joseph Backholm, chairman of Preserve Marriage Washington, in a statement on the campaign’s website.

Supporters of same-sex marriage declared victory on Wednesday after their number-crunchers determined that they would be able to hold onto their early lead. At last count, same-sex marriage was winning with 52 percent of the vote.

Gov. Chris Gregoire released a statement praising the passage of Referendum 74. Gregoire introduced the legislation that would become the same-sex marriage bill at the beginning of the year.

“Washington has made history and I couldn’t be prouder. Voters stood up for what is right and what is just and said that all Washington families are equal under the law. I am proud that our LGBT families will no longer be treated as separate but equal, they will be equal,” Gregoire said.

T-Mobile backs same-sex marriage, politics in redistricting and more

By | August 20, 2012 | 0 Comments

A couple of newsworthy notes:

1. Cell phone company T-Mobile, which employs about 4,800 workers in Washington state, announced today that they’re backing efforts to legalize same-sex marriage. T-Mobile made a $25,000 donation and endorsement to Washington United for Marriage, the primary campaign working to approve Referendum 74. “T-Mobile has a long-standing focus on creating an inclusive workplace environment for our employees,” said Jim Alling, interim CEO. Read the news release here.

2. Speaking of same-sex marriage, TVW began filming spots this week from initiative and referendum campaigns to add to the Video Voters’ Guide. Joseph Backholm (pictured at right), who is leading the No on Referendum 74 campaign, was in the studio today to record his statement. Representatives from other campaigns — including Yes on R-74, charter schools initiative and marijuana legalization — will be recording spots later in the week. We’ll keep you posted when those go live.

3. Through emails obtained with a public records request, The News Tribune’s Peter Callaghan does a great job of spelling out just how political the redistricting process really is — on both sides of the aisle. Read the story here.

4. The state parks system released a report last week that said it can’t operate without money from the state, and they’re asking for $18 million to make sure park gates stay open. The Herald got responses from both gubernatorial candidates. Both Democrat Jay Inslee and Republican Rob McKenna said the parks system needs public funding, although neither candidate would commit to a dollar amount. Read the story here.

Categories: Same sex marriage, TVW

Judge tosses phrase from same-sex marriage referendum

By | March 14, 2012 | 0 Comments

A Thurston County judge ruled Tuesday that a referendum to repeal the same-sex marriage law cannot include the phrase “redefine marriage” on the ballot in the fall election. The ruling frees backers of the referendum to begin collecting the 120,577 signatures they need by June 6th to put the issue to voters.

Gov. Gregoire signed a bill passed by the Legislature last month that allows same-sex couples to marry. Opponents of same-sex marriage are seeking to overturn the law with Referendum 74, which asks voters to approve or reject the legislation.

The Attorney General’s original language for the ballot summary of Referendum 74 said it would “redefine marriage” to allow same-sex couples to marry. The League of Women Voters of Washington and PFLAG sued to challenge the wording, arguing that it was politically charged.

Under Judge Thomas McPhee’s ruling, the following language will be used to summarize the ballot measure if it reaches voters:

“This bill allows same-sex couples to marry, applies marriage laws without regard to gender and specifies that laws using gender-specific terms like husband and wife include same-sex spouses. After 2014, existing domestic partnerships are converted to marriages, except for seniors.  It preserves the right of clergy or religious organizations to refuse to perform or recognize any marriage or accommodate wedding ceremonies.  The bill does not affect licensing of religious organizations providing adoption, foster care or child placement.”

Governor signs same-sex marriage bill

By | February 13, 2012 | 0 Comments

Flanked by more than 40 lawmakers, Gov. Chris Gregoire signed a bill into law this morning legalizing same-sex marriage. Hundreds of people waited outside the state reception room where she signed the bill, and they chanted “Gregoire! Gregoire!” as she walked in.

Rep. Jamie Pedersen, D-Seattle, who sponsored the House’s version of the bill, said he’s proud of Washington for taking a first step toward equal rights.

“With the signing of this bill, Washington is the first state to repeal the first so-called Defense of Marriage Act and make marriage available to gay and lesbian families,” Pedersen said. He thanked his partner and “future husband” Eric, who was at the signing with their four young children.

Regardless of what happens in the months ahead, Sen. Ed Murray said “nothing will take this moment in history away from us.” He was referring to an effort by opponents to put a referendum on the November ballot that would repeal the same-sex marriage law.

Murray thanked several lawmakers for their support, including Rep. Laurie Jinkins, D-Tacoma. “You’ve heard it said you need a woman in the house. Well, the skills of Rep. Laurie Jinkins proves that you need a lesbian in the house,” Murray joked.

In her remarks before signing the bill, Gov. Gregoire said today “is a proud day that historians will mark as a milestone for equal rights.”

She talked about a 16-year-old girl who had considered suicide because of her sexual orientation, but changed her mind after hearing the discussion surrounding same-sex marriage, which “allowed her to live.” Gregoire teared up when thanking the younger generation — especially her daughters — for speaking up in support of equal rights.

Just before signing the bill, Gregoire said its purpose is “simple and clear.” It allows same-sex couples the same right to a marriage license as a heterosexual couple, Gregoire said, while still protecting the rights of religious organizations and churches.

Same-sex marriage bill signing ceremony today

By | February 13, 2012 | 0 Comments

At 11:30 a.m., Gov. Chris Gregoire is expected to sign a bill into law that legalizes same-sex marriage in Washington state. We’ll be live with the event on TVW, and we’ll also have coverage on the blog.

Opponents have promised to put a referendum on the ballot that would overturn the law. After she’s signed the bill, they are allowed to begin collecting the 120,577 signatures they’ll need to send the issue to the ballot in November. If they collect enough signatures by June 6th, then the law will be suspended until the results of the November election are certified. Otherwise, same-sex couples could wed as early as June 7th.