Opponents of a Washington state law legalizing same-sex marriage have now blocked it from taking effect just one day before it was scheduled to do so, and one day after yesterday's good news for opponents of California's Proposition 8 banning same-sex marriage.
After a momentous signing ceremony this February by governor Christine Gregoire, Washington was set to become the seventh state in the country to make same-sex marriage legal. Before the bill was signed, Washington allowed domestic partnerships, and in 2011, Governor Gregoire signed a law that would recognize out-of-state same-sex marriages as domestic partnerships in state.
But that's all on hold now, thanks to the group Preserve Marriage Washington, and their submission of over 200,000 signatures today seeking a public vote on the issue in November. A statement from the group defends their position by saying that legalizing same-sex marriage is not about granting equality, but about creating a competing definition of marriage that would ultimately hurt children:
Why has virtually every society throughout history defined marriage as the union of one man and one woman? The answer can be summarized in one word: children.Protecting the interests of children is the primary reason that government regulates and licenses marriage in the first place. After all, government does not license or regulate any other form of intimate relationship - not friendship, or dating, or cohabitation. People are free, under the law, to live as they choose, cohabitate with whomever they choose and engage in sexually intimate relationships with whomever they choose - all without any governmental recognition or regulation.
Last month on Hardball, Chris Matthews and Rep. Barney Frank of Mass— America's first openly-gay congressman — got into a heated exchange with Tony Perkins, the head of the Family Research Council, about legalizing same-sex marriage after President Obama spoke out in support of marriage equality (video below). Perkins defended his position with the same "for the children" argument that seems to be par for the course among same-sex marriage opponents these days.
I think Chris Matthews put it best in that segment: "A marriage is not just spawning. It's not just having kids. It's staying together. It's forming a family. Forming a family is what we're talking about here, and honoring a family."
The time and money spent fighting marriage-equality laws is unproductive. The definition of "family" has changed in the past few decades alone, and if you were to ban same-sex couples from being married because it would hurt children to not have one mother and one father, then you would have to likewise condemn single parents, or people with fertility issues.
Perhaps that's the point.