A pro-marriage equality ad airing in Washington State deserves a "Pants on Fire" Award, according to anti-marriage equality organization Preserve Marriage Washington. The group published a press release on Tuesday blasting a new television ad that began airing last week, and said that it was "not an accurate depiction of the law" in Washington.
The ad in question was produced by Washington United for Marriage, which is currently lobbying for the passage of R-74. The referendum, which will be voted on this November, would legalize same-sex marriage in the state.
In the ad, a mother tells the story of her daughter and her daughter's partner who was diagnosed with brain cancer. "One night in the hospital Cheryl had a seizure," the mother in the ad says. "She was asking for Sarah and no one called. Only marriage guarantees that all couples can be there for each other when it really matters."
Preserve Marriage Washington shot back at the ad, calling it "melodramatic" and says that its claims are false because the state's domestic partnership law allowed hospital visitation and other rights for same-sex couples.
But as Think Progress points out, Washington's "everything but marriage" law doesn't guarantee equal rights:
The anti-equality group makes the case that Washington’s “everything but marriage” law, approved in 2009, created hospital visitation protections for domestic partners, but that doesn’t mean the protections are guaranteed in each situation. What the law says and how a hospital reacts in an emergency will not necessarily be the same, because domestic partnerships are simply not recognized with the same familiarity and respect as marriages.
ThinkProgress points out New Jersey as an example, and says that despite adopting civil unions, a commission found that same-sex couples were still not treated as equals.
Even if, given enough time, civil unions are understood to provide rights and responsibilities equivalent to those provided in marriage, they send a message to the public: same-sex couples are not equal to opposite-sex married couples in the eyes of the law, that they are “not good enough” to warrant true equality.
Even if the "everything but marriage" law provided hospital visitation rights for same-sex couples, that goes beyond the point of legalizing same-sex marriage. The point of allowing marriage equality is to allow all people the right to marry whomever they love, and not parading "separate but equal" laws around as an answer for true equality and civil rights.
Melissa's Saturday segment on down-ballot initiatives being voted upon in November -- including marriage equality in Washington State -- is below.