This year, voters in Washington state have the chance for vote on Referendum 74, which if passed would affirm the legality of gay marriage in our state. I’m a Christian. I’m also voting YES on this ballot measure, and I’d like to tell you why. Before we begin, here’s the complete text of the referendum:
The legislature passed Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill 6239 concerning marriage for same-sex couples, modified domestic-partnership law, and religious freedom, and voters have filed a sufficient referendum petition on this bill. This bill would allow same-sex couples to marry, preserve domestic partnerships only for seniors, and preserve the right of clergy or religious organizations to refuse to perform, recognize, or accommodate any marriage ceremony.
So why am I supporting this bill? A simple answer would be that, as I have been so blessed to know many LGBT couples and individuals, who are great, loving, and honest people, I wish to bless them with my support of the loving and committed relationships I have seen between people in this community. But, outside of the personal relationships that have enriched my life, here are three reasons why I’m voting Yes:
1. It does not infringe on anyone’s religious belief
If R74 passes, pastors and ministers would not be required to perform same sex marriages. This is a common misconception; but religious liberty is a first amendment right, and R74 is designed to respect that. Same sex couples seeking a marriage ceremony in a church will still need to find a sympathetic member of the clergy.
Were this not the case, I couldn’t in good conscience vote for this. I wouldn’t want to open up freedoms for one person while closing it for another. Thankfully, this is not the case with R74.
2. It opens up marriage for some without closing it for any
Religious liberty in America is a two-way street. Some Christians believe that same sex marriage is sinful, and they are free to believe that. Others, however, believe that same sex marriage is not incompatible with their faith. Others are not religious at all, and find no basis for objecting to same sex marriage. Are not the First Amendment rights of these Americans to be respected also?
Marriage is many things. As a married man (almost six years with my beautiful wife) I know that being able to celebrate your love and the consecration of your union with a community is very important, and a basic human right. R74 opens this blessed celebration up to more folks, without interfering in the lives of anyone else. Marriage is about family, about being part of a community, and about giving a safe place for children to be raised.
3. It is part of the rich American tradition of fighting discrimination
Marriage is good for our nation, and Americans seem to understand that. In the broader scope, our government recognizes the importance and significance of marriages through the legal code, tax code, and recognition of the church’s role in blessing marriages. However, not unlike many issues of civil rights, it’s been a bumpy road. It was not that long ago that interracial marriage was illegal in this country, and it was through a lot of disputes and debate in both the culture at large, and in our legal system, to right a wrong that persisted far too long.
The parallels to the modern marriage equality movement are significant. In this day, we see those who stood in support of interracial marriage as the leading edge of liberty, human rights, and the values that make America great. Few people today publicly object to interracial marriage. In the future, I fully expect to see marriage equality become part of our nation’s valued liberties, and those who stood in defense of it regarded as heroes. Standing up for marriage equality is standing on the right side of history.