Gov. Christine Gregoire Gives Fantastic Speech Before Signing Marriage Equality Bill

If you haven’t seen it yet, Washington Governor Christine Gregoire signed the bill for marriage equality earlier today and her pre-signing speech is just beautiful to listen to:

The only disappointing part is where she explains in a positive way how religious groups will be exempt from having to solemnize or affirm gay unions. If that’s what it takes to get the bill through, fine, but when Christians are rewriting history decades (years?) from now, never forget that marriage equality happened in spite of them, not because of them.

Gay couples can begin getting married on June 7th in the state, unless enough signatures are gathered to put the bill up for a vote… that may sound like a setback, but if enough pro-marriage-equality voters get to the ballot box, it could also be our greatest victory yet.

(via Joe. My. God.)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Anonymous

    While I’m happy that same-sex couples can access more of the rights, privileges, etc. that married heterosexual couples are bestowed,I think we should decouple marital status from government benefits, rights, privileges, etc.  Marital status shouldn’t determine how you’re treated by the state.

    • http://www.facebook.com/d3st88 Morva Ádám

      Agreed, although I’m yet to think this through carefully, and I haven’t received any reasonable arguments against this.

      Hospital visiting rights, inheritance and such come to mind.

      • Erp

         At the federal level, marital status can affect permission to become a permanent resident.  In particular foreign spouses (one only) of US citizens can get permanent residency fairly easily (there are the intrusive questions and checks  to determine whether they really are married).   However because of DOMA only opposite sex spouses can take this route.  In fact the existence of a same sex marriage between a US citizen and a non-resident may well make it harder for the non-resident to even enter the US on a temporary visa (the assumption being that because of the relationship, the foreigner intends to stay).

    • Anonymous

      Marriage IS a legal status.  If two people aren’t treated differently by the state in virtue of a legal status, then there is effectively no legal status.  So, I’m having a little trouble understanding what you are proposing.  

    • Anonymous

       Won’t ever happen. Every country uses marriage to bestow certain benefits. And has so for centuries.

      Though I agree that in some cases it’s taken way too far. There is absolutely no reason why hospital visitation (as opposed to making medical decision) needs to be restricted to people who are related. So the dependence on marriage could be reduced here and there. But you will never get rid of it

  • http://www.mtlskeptic.wordpress.com/ mtlskeptic

    I think it’s great that progress is being made but it’s a shame that it has to be done state by state like this. It’s not fair that same-sex couples should have to wait around for others to be ready for them to get equal rights. This is a good thing, I just wish it wasn’t taking so long.

    • Renshia

      I guess when it comes to social interaction, we need to understand that humans are slow to change. However, I think it is facinating to watch the proccess take place, This is social evolution in action. Just as important as the end of slavery and this time there is no war. That has got too be progress, right?

      What will be incredible is if we are alive when this arguement comes to the state of being self evident. You will now when that happens, that’s when the christians start to claim they made it happen.

  • Josh J

    “I know marriage equality is a difficult issue.” But it shouldn’t be. It really shouldn’t be.

  • Kevin S.

    I disagree about winning at the ballot being LGBT equality’s greatest victory yet.  Nobody ever wins when fundamental rights are put to a popular vote.

  • http://twitter.com/ErnestValdemar Ernest Valdemar

    “The only disappointing part . . .”

    I don’t see this as disappointing at all. Religious groups can already refuse to solemnize any marriage at all for any reason. For example, Catholic priests won’t perform marriages for divorced people, and that’s fine with me — most ex-Catholics I know are divorced and on their second marriage. And I’m all in favor of ex-Catholics.

    When I married over twenty years ago, we chose a very liberal Unitarian minister, but he insisted on interviewing us first, and reserved the right to send us elsewhere for any reason, or no reason at all.

    This is not only not a problem, but we should insist on it. People should know who their allies are.

    • J2 718ff

      Indeed.  Allowing churches to continue to discriminate will just make them less appealing as their members become more progressive, and provide yet another reason to leave the faith.

      • http://www.facebook.com/AnonymousBoy Larry Meredith

        It’s not going to drive them away from the faith. Just away from their current organization. There’s a million flavors of Christian and as long as they still believe in their Christ Jesus there’s bound to be less bitter flavor for them to continue indulging their delusion.

    • Anonymous

      I agree up to a point. But I don’t think that christian denominations should have the legal right to bar all of their ministers from officiating. Those who wish to do so should be allowed even where most of their colleagues would refuse.

    • Anonymous

       If it’s just about officiating ceremonies that’s fine. But there are states that have very wide ranging exemptions that allow religiously affiliated organizations such as schools and hospitals to discriminate. Given how deep religion has its dirty hands in secular affairs in the US that’s a big no-no

    • Anonymous

      I can think of a disappointing part: The part where a referendum was posted MINUTES after the bill was signed to repeal it, and how there’ll probably be at least two more referendums after this one is struck down, and how the bill won’t actually be put into practice until they’re all fielded. It may be years before the first marriage actually happens — IF it happens.

  • Anonymous

    We ought to end the entire practice of solemnization or open it to all residents.  It’s an absurd entanglement of church and state that the state authorizes clerics to solemnize marriages.  

    http://apps.leg.wa.gov/RCW/default.aspx?cite=26.04.050

    • Anonymous

       It should be like in continental Europe and much of Latin America. There you must have a legal wedding at city hall or one performed by a civil official. If you want a religious wedding too, you can go to church afterwards or do it on another day.

      Having priests perform legally valid weddings is indeed the reason for their overly inflated sense of importance. Both by themselves and by the public. There are people who don’t know that you don’t have to get married in a church

    • BinaryStar

      That’s all well and good, and you’re probably right, but in the meantime, this kind of sophistry does nothing for gay folk like myself whose relationships are at the mercy of assholes who don’t even know or accept us. So it’s more helpful for you to join our struggled than rebuild the institution from the ground up. Sorry if I sound angry, but I’m so sick of having to even have the discussion at this point.

      • Anonymous

        I’m sorry but I’ll have to call bullshit on that. It would not be rebuilding the institution to open solemnization to everyone. It is already that way de facto in California because you can get an online ordainment. But why should someone need to get an online ordainment in order to do so.

        It would be a bigger change to eliminate the solemnization requirement in that couples would married from the time they get their license but that is hardly rebuilding the institution of marriage. People confuse the mechanism by which you enter a marriage with marriage.

        • Anonymous

          Plus, we already have civil unions and the ability to be married under a judge. We’d just be expanding on that to make THAT our legally binding marital method and removing the same from the church.

  • Anonymous

    So Hemant, how do you see things for Illinois? It’s pretty reliably democratic, so there’s got to be a lot of liberals. On the other hand the combination of the red rural areas and the baptist urban areas could be a hard nut to crack. Do you see it happening anytime soon?

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Hemant Mehta

      They recently passed civil unions but I don’t think there’s enough support in the State legislature for equal marriage.

  • Anonymous

    It will be interesting to see how long it will be before churches with dwindling membership and revenue allow gays to pay for using their facilities to get married.   

  • mkb

    Hemant, You’re rewriting history now when you try to write the liberal church out of the fight for equal rights for sexual minorities.  There will be a protest at my county courthouse today “Standing on the side of love” organized by local religious groups, some of which are Christian. Don’t make them invisible.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Hemant Mehta

      You’re right. There are some religious groups on our side. But I don’t think they’re the ones who’ll rewrite history and they still understand that religion is the biggest obstacle to marriage equality.

    • Xeon2000

      Yeah, and there were also some rogue/re-programmed terminators that helped the human rebels in their fight.  However, a century later, after the humans are victorious, I think people will still attribute their near extinction to the rise of the terminators.

  • Pluto Animus

    As the Governor is about to sign the bill into law, the crowd of supporters falls respectfully quiet.  Then a Christian d-bag starts yelling something about “Christ,” and the crowd happily drowns him out with the sound of cheers- the voice of brotherly love itself crying out in joy.  It’s safe to assume that the vocal religious idiot couldn’t hear it over the white noise of his precious hateful fairy tales….

  • Rwlawoffice

    When this issue has been discussed in the past I made the point that it would not be long before there was a call for churches to be forced to officiate over same sex marriages. Those that support same sex marriage said I was a Christian alarmist and this would never happen.  Looks like I was right.  It is not enough to have the legal right to marry, you now view it as a defeat if the bill includes exemptions for religious organizations.  It is called the free exercise of religion and it is in the same constitution that you use to claim equal protection under the law. 

    • Anonymous

      You are an alarmist. We’ve had marriage equality in Canada for over a decade now (nation-wide since 2005) and no religious official has been forced to perform a same sex marriage, nor is there a call for that to happen. Just like non-Catholics are not pressuring the government to make the  Church change its rules about divorce or ordination of women. Those things are up to the Church’s members to accept or challenge.

      It has been ruled that a public servant cannot refuse to do her job based on her religious beliefs, but that’s not even in the same ball park.

      • Rwlawoffice

        I would suggest you follow the news a little south of your border. I was commenting on Hemant’s comment that the only disappointment in the bill was the religious exemption.  If that is viewed as a disappointment then it is indicative of the goal to remove that exemption which would then force churches to perform these services. It is already happening in some qausi religious settings or institutions where the religious organizations are being forced to ignore their beliefs to accommodate same sex couples.  Case in point- A religious camp that was forced to host a same sex marriage ceremony because they had offered that camp to others outside of their religion. Slightly off topic and not exactly the same, but also the recent requirement of the Obama administration that would have forced Catholic institutions that weren’t exactly churches to offer their employees free birth control despite their religious objections to it, is an example of this erosion.  

        • Anonymous

          If that is viewed as a disappointment then it is indicative of the goal
          to remove that exemption which would then force churches to perform
          these services.

          Umm. No. I can say that it’s disappointing that the Catholic Church refuses to ordain women or allow priests to marry without having it as a goal of mine to force them via legislation to change.  That’s how I read Hemant’s statement, i.e. that it’s disappointing that there are religious organisations that are still on the wrong side of the issue who must be explicitly accommodated.

          If you want to bring up specific incidents for discussion, you’ll need to provide sources for them, so I can make my own judgements, unfiltered through your bias.

          Slightly off topic and not exactly the same, but also the recent
          requirement of the Obama administration that would have forced Catholic
          institutions that weren’t exactly churches to offer their employees free
          birth control despite their religious objections to it, is an example
          of this erosion.

          Not slightly, but completely off-topic. Employers should not have a say in the medical decisions of its employees. If your populace chooses not to have some form of universal healthcare and leaves it up to employers to provide insurance as part of workers’ benefits, that insurance should not be discriminatory. It’s up to the individual member of a religion how closely they want to adhere to doctrine. I don’t see the Catholic Church protesting about paying for ED drugs for men whose wives are post-menopausal. Or non-existent. They just don’t get involved unless it’s about controlling women’s bodies. This has nothing to do with qualifications for religious marriage and divorce, which have always been up to religious authorities to determine.

          • Rwlawoffice

            If that is what Hemant meant then you may be correct as far as his opinion is concerned.  However, this goal is being pursued by others.  The example I gave from England can be found here:

            http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2069426/Church-offer-gay-weddings-Camerons-plans-given-
            ahead.html

            As for the religious camp being sued, the case is Bernstein v. Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association out of New Jersey.

            As for the insurance argument: it is not a matter of the employers having a say in the health care of the employees,  but whether a religiously based employer must be forced to pay for health care that violates the religious beliefs of the employer.

            • Anonymous

              The example I gave from England can be found here:

              Which is just more alarmism. Even the fearmongering Daily Mail had to include this statement:

              Liberal Democrat Equalities Minister
              Lynne Featherstone has indicated that nothing would force churches that
              disapprove of gay relationships to host same-sex ceremonies

              The rest is just unwarranted speculation and hype by anti-equality advocates in order to rouse support.

              Bernstein v. Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association

              The pavilion in question was not a church, nor were the plaintiffs demanding that the owners or representatives of the church participate in their wedding. They sued for equal access to a facility open for public hire. This is no different than had the couple been black or of mixed race and the owners had refused based on race. In other words, once you open for business you aren’t allowed to discriminate based on race, religion, or sex. That was resolved with the Civil Rights amendment.

              whether a religiously based employer must be forced to pay for health care that violates the religious beliefs of the employer.

              And what if the employer says it only wants to pay for insurance coverage for eye glasses because it is their belief that god will heal the righteous without medicine for every other affliction? Why should the janitor who mops up the church floor or the gardener not be covered in case of appendicitis or a stroke? Can’t every employer bail out of paying any insurance based on this reasoning?It’s none of the employer’s business.

              • Rwlawoffice

                These are just a couple of examples.  There is already a call for any religious exemptions to be done away with in alot of different contexts- employment laws, tax laws, etc.  How long do you think it will be before we start to hear a call that same sex couples should have the same right to have a church wedding as their heterosexual counterparts?  Some editorials are already saying that. 

                The Ocean Camp case did involve a religiously owned park.  You are right that the court held that because it was open to the public it was not considered a church. But it is a fine line and will be used to move this forward.

                As for insurance- I guess if the government requires an employer to provide insurance that includes benefits such as contraception or abortion that violate the employers religious beliefs, then the employer will just not provide that benefit.  Of course, no one requires the employees to work there and they can find a job that fits their beliefs better.   But we really aren’t talking about general employers, we are talking about religious employers and their right to exercise their religion is a constitutionally protected right.

      • Rwlawoffice

        One more thing,  it is already happening in the EU and in England where the governments are calling for an end to religious exemptions for churches which would force them to perform same sex marriages.

        • amyc

          citation needed

  • TiltedHorizon

    Religious establishments should be free to choose those they feel are worthy of solemnization, it allows them to show their true colors and prompts those they turn away to hold less than favorable opinions of these establishments.

    Case in point, my Wife of 20 years, is a quasi-Catholic, not because of any comments or arguments I have made but because her own Churches (yes, more than one) have turned their collective backs on her for the crime of marrying (done by the city since no church would do it) a heathen.


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