Children do best when raised by their married mom and dad. By making marriage genderless, the legislature minimizes the unique role of moms and dads. Marriage is the only institution we have that not only unites a man and a woman with one another, but also with any children born to them. Children have a right to know and be cared for by both their mom and dad. Stripping marriage of its male and female qualities will shift marriage from being a public institution which is child centered, binding the child to its parents, to an arrangement based on the personal wants of adults.
In 2009, voters approved the "Everything but Marriage" law. This means same-sex couples in Washington already enjoy every legal right and obligation as opposite-sex couples. No exceptions.
Referendum 74 will not grant same-sex couples any new benefits. It will redefine marriage for everyone. This means there will be legal consequences for anyone who disagrees with the new definition of marriage. A common myth is that somehow same-sex marriage will coexist in the law alongside traditional marriage. But, when marriage is redefined, the new definition becomes the sole definition of marriage for everyone. No distinction between husband and wife. The new definition will read, Spouse 1 and Spouse 2. Everyone in Washington will be legally bound to the new definition of marriage or face legal consequences.
Recently, Mayor of Washington, D.C., Vincent Gray said in reference to supporters of traditional marriage that, "...there just is no place for them in this city." The District of Columbia has redefined marriage as being gender neutral. Gray's statement provides a clear illustration of how our right to religious conscience is withdrawn when marriage is redefined, for Gray suggests that supporters of traditional marriage have "no place" in our nation's capital. Statements from mayors in other cities, such as Boston and San Francisco, where marriage has been redefined, have been similar.
In states that have redefined marriage, there have already been consequences for those who support traditional marriage.
For example, religious groups like Catholic Charities in Boston and Washington, D.C., had to choose between fulfilling their social mission and accepting the new definition of marriage. Or close their adoption programs in accordance with their religious conscience. They closed their adoption programs.
Redefining marriage also influences our educational system and the rights of parents to direct their children's education. Whenever schools educate children about marriage, parents will no longer have a choice but to allow the teaching of the new genderless institution. Remember, this new definition of marriage replaces that of traditional marriage. In Massachusetts, children as young as second grade are taught same sex marriage in class. The courts have ruled that parents have no right to prior notice, or to opt their children out of instruction.
Where marriage is redefined, business owners also face consequences if they support traditional marriage. Wedding professionals have been fined for refusing to participate in same-sex ceremonies. Innkeepers in Vermont paid $30,000 over their refusal to make facilities available for same-sex weddings. Doctors, lawyers, accountants and other licensed professionals risk their state licensure for acting in concert with their conscience about marriage.
So when we reject Referendum 74, we are rejecting this kind of censure. We urge Washington voters to reject Referendum 74. Our children and grandchildren are depending on us to protect their freedom and their future.
Linda Morrell is a Whatcom County business owner and Kathleen Mann of Bellingham is a nurse.