News Meta Gay Marriage: In a Good Way
posted by January 11 at 12:15 PMon
The five gay legislators in Olympia (but mostly two of them: Sen. Ed Murray (D-43) and Rep. Jamie Pedersen (D-43) …) unveiled two bills at a press conference in Olympia this morning.
One bill, a long shot that Murray acknowledged will “move slowly” —refusing to make any prediction about how many sessions it will take to pass, was a bill for full marriage equality for gays and lesbians.
The other bill, which Pedersen said would pass this session in the House, is a domestic partnerships bill. This bill would grant about 10 rights to domestic partners—like allow domestic partners to have hospital visitation rights; allow domestic partners to give informed consent on hospital decisions; allow partners to make funeral arrangements; and allow domestic partners to inherit property in the absence of a will.
It leaves a host (423 and counting according to the latest study) of other rights off the table, like access to your partner’s health care or your parnter’s pension benefits; the ability to file a wrongful death suit if you partner is killed; and the right of “spousal privilege” —which would shield a domestic partner (like a husband or wife) from being compelled to testify against one another.
Indeed, the legislators have decided to take a bite size approach.
(I cannot link the bills yet because they haven’t been officially filed.)
The incremental approach is certainly about gaining rights, but it’s also about highlighting what rights gays and lesbians don’t have. Murray and Pedersen believe this is a way to dramatize the issue for those who may oppose gay marriage.
Murray told me:
By emphasizing issues in the domestic partnership bill—being able to visit your partner in the hospital and bury your partner—we emphasize two of the 400.. 500 rights of marriage that gays and lesbians don’t have. Every year we’ll introduce more of these and people are going to get the picture that we just need to do the whole thing
The idea here is a multiple bill strategy to get people educated. If we just focused on marriage we’d just have this huge culture war.
By breaking out: “This is what we’re asking for” ….hundredes of things down the line…to be able to visit our partners… to have them on our health care… we educate people to the reality. We show people that we need to be able to protect the person we’re with or have access to their property.
What’s central to going about it this way is that we can make this progress this year. If we were going to do a symbol bill where we don’t think we’re going to pass it, why don’t we just do a marriage bill [on its own]? Or do comprehensive domestic partnership legislation. We’re doing what we can do this year, knowing that we’re going to keep on doing this and keep on adding things every session until we get marriage.
The reason for including the specific rights they did is because these rights are all things a gay or lesbian could do if they paid lawyers enough. “This has an economic justice component too,” Pedersen says. “You’ve got people who can’t afford to have lawyers make all these fancy expensive arrangements,” that straight people get for the cost of a marriage license.
Domestic partners—and there’s a straightforward definition of who qualifies including “living together” and “consent”—would apply for a license at the state and pay a small fee.