This past April, the Democratic majority in the Washington State legislature passed a bill building on previous domestic partnership laws that granted registered same-sex couples all the rights given to married couples (AKA the everything-but-marriage law). Anti-gay rights activists made a great show of wailing and gnashing their teeth, putting forward their usual arguments against the law; e.g., “OMG, if same-sex couples have equal inheritance rights, we’ll all be turned to pillars of salt!!”
The haters struggled senselessly to avoid their salty fate, by getting a referendum on the ballot that allows them to judge their neighbors. (I’m not sure God likes that.) Referedum 71 would reverse April’s landmark legislation, which passed the House 62-35 and the Senate 30-18.
What are the rights that threaten Washington State? Chiefly, things like family medical leave, equal access to pension benefits, and equal inheritance rights. For a taste of how damaging a lack of equal rights can be, consider this: People in same-sex couples have to pay ridiculously high estate taxes if their partners die, sometimes to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars. If they had the same rights as married couples, they would have to pay nothing.
Here’s the tricky part. Even though the holier-than-thou crowd are the ones who R-71 on the ballot, R-71 asks voters whether the legislation should stand. So a vote to approve Ref 71 will be a vote to preserve the rights of same-sex couples.
The most recent polls have R-71 passing by a slim margin, thanks largely to Seattle voters. So fill out your ballot now.
PubliCola Picks: Approve R-71.