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Friday, February 17, 2012

Rob McKenna's Proposed Gay Marriage Referendum Language Uses NOM Talking Points

Posted by on Fri, Feb 17, 2012 at 12:56 PM

As mentioned previously, it's Republican Attorney General Rob McKenna who gets the first shot at writing a ballot title and summary for R-74, the effort to overturn our state's new gay marriage law.

Which, of course, has many gay rights advocates concerned given McKenna's stated opposition to gay marriage.

"We're watching Rob McKenna closely," Zach Silk, of Washington United for Marriage, told me last week. "As we all should."

Today brings McKenna's proposed ballot title and summary, which—affirming Silk's earlier concern—mirrors talking points rated "most effective" by the conservative National Organization for Marriage, a group that's backing the marriage law repeal effort and threatening to fund primary challengers for Republican lawmakers who voted for the bill.

Ballot Title
The legislature passed Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill 6239 concerning marriage [and voters have filed a sufficient referendum petition on this bill.]

This bill would redefine marriage to allow same-sex couples to marry, modify existing domestic-partnership laws, allow clergy to refuse to solemnize or recognize marriages and religious organizations to refuse to accommodate marriage celebrations.

Should this bill be

___ Approved

___ Rejected

Ballot Measure Summary
The bill would redefine marriage to allow same-sex couples to marry, apply marriage eligibility requirements without regard to gender, and specify that laws using gender-specific terms like “husband” and “wife” include same-sex spouses. Clergy could refuse to solemnize or recognize any marriages. Religious organizations and religiously affiliated educational institutions could refuse to accommodate weddings. The measure would not affect licensing of religious organizations providing adoption, foster-care, or child-placement. Domestic partnerships for seniors would be preserved.

"Redefine marriage"? That's certainly the NOM-approved term for it. "This phrase is literally part of our opposition's playbook," Silk says.

But, as it turns out, the phrase doesn't appear anywhere in the bill just passed by the legislature, and normally referendum ballot titles must hew very closely to the legislature's language.

"This is the first of many steps to write the referendum language," Silk cautions. "We will fight to make sure the language is fair, balanced and accurate. The attorney general's proposal has some obvious flaws."

Next move: The Washington United for Marriage legal team, if it wants to change this language, will have to take the proposed ballot title and summary (and, by extension, McKenna) to court.


Comments (12) RSS

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kim in portland 1
The Bible redefines marriage a few times. You'd think these NOMonsters would know what they have devoted themselves to. Especially as they are always whining that Genesis needs to be protected.

·      1)  Man and a woman (Genesis 2:24)
       2)Polygynous marriage (Genesis 4:19 is the first place you find it mentioned) one man is permitted multiple wives. The following is a shortened list of individuals in the Bible that had polygynous marriages Lamech, Esau, Jacob, Gideon, Elkanah, David, Solomon, Rehaboam, and Herod the Great.
·        3)Levirate marriage (Genesis 38: 6-10) from the Latin ‘levir’ meaning brother-in-law. A widow was required to marry her brother-in-law to produce an heir for her dead husband if he died before fathering a son.
·        4)A slave as a piece of property in a plural marriage (Genesis 16), Sarah gives her slave Hagar to Abraham as a substitute womb.
·        5)Concubine marriage (Genesis 22: 24) to a woman of lesser status, but not a slave or prisoner of war, than “official wives”. A brief, but not exhaustive list include: Abraham, Nahor, Jacob, David, and Solomon.
·        6) A male soldier and a female prisoner of war (Numbers 38:1-18; Deuteronomy 21: 11-14) the woman was made to shave her head and allowed a period of morning before she was placed in a marriage.
·        7) A male rapist and his victim (Deuteronomy 21:11-14) provided she wasn’t engaged her rapist pays her father fifty shekels of silver and then marries her.
·        8) Male and female slaves (Exodus 21:4), a slave owner could assign a slave woman to become another slave’s wife. She remained the property of the slave owner though, and if her husband was freed she and their children could not go with him. If he wished to stay than the slave owner would pierce his ear as evidence of his permanent status as a slave to his owner.
Posted by kim in portland on February 17, 2012 at 1:15 PM · Report this
Joe Szilagyi 2
Waiting for Seattleblues.
Posted by Joe Szilagyi on February 17, 2012 at 1:17 PM · Report this
Sargon Bighorn 3
Take it to court and drag it out as long as possible.
Posted by Sargon Bighorn on February 17, 2012 at 1:50 PM · Report this
Joe, you have to call his name three times, like Beetlejuice or Bloody Mary.

Boy, beyond winning a fix for the language I hope WUM (and Inslee) can make some anti-McKenna fodder out of this.
Posted by gloomy gus on February 17, 2012 at 1:51 PM · Report this
NotSean 5
I'll put my foot in my mouth here:

The language of this referendum seems dry and correct. I know that 'redefine' can be code for 'be afraid', but sometimes, it just means what it says.

By the way, I'm really bugged about the clause regarding adoption agencies. How does that fly?

Posted by NotSean on February 17, 2012 at 2:08 PM · Report this
The words "redefine marriage to" need to be removed, then it is accurate and fine:

This bill would allow same-sex couples to marry...

That is accurate and neutral.
Posted by JohnnyC on February 17, 2012 at 2:15 PM · Report this
"This bill would expand the definition of marriage..."

Other possible E-verbs for the phrase: enlarge, enhance
Posted by N in Seattle on February 17, 2012 at 2:22 PM · Report this
@ 6

Remove that phrase entirely and the language becomes much more neutral and concise, while remaining just as accurate, if not more.

"This bill would allow same-sex couples to marry"
"This bill would redefine marriage to allow same-sex couples to marry"

Posted by Lack Thereof on February 17, 2012 at 8:17 PM · Report this
very bad homo 10
@2 - I think he moved to Italy.
Posted by very bad homo on February 17, 2012 at 8:58 PM · Report this
The section that comes closest to a "redefinition" is in RCW 26.04.010, although that statutory provision isn't characterized as a "definitions" section. Rather, it characterizes the basic nature of "marriage" as being, for purposes of the law, a "civil contract." Technically, the amendment removes sex-specific restrictions on eligibility to enter into a marriage civil contract. Accordingly, if accuracy with respect to the changes in the law is the goal, why isn't "civil contract" - language from the actual statute and bill, included in the summary? Why is "redefine" - language that does not appear in the statute or bill - included in the summary? Instead of starting the summary with "This bill would redefine marriage to allow same-sex couples to marry", it would be more accurate (according to the existing law and bill) to say "This bill would allow any two capable adults over the age of eighteen to form a marriage civil contract" or even "This bill would remove sex-based discrimination in eligibility to form a marriage civil contract".

Why doesn't the summary mention the bill's effect in removing discrimination against individuals who marry, legally, as same-sex couples, in other states? That is a very significant part of the bill that isn't even summarized, and doing so would help people to understand the impact of the bill. People would be more fully informed if the summary accurately said "This bill would allow for the marriages of same-sex couples lawfully married in other states to have legal effect in the State of Washington."

Why does the ballot summary use the term "weddings" which doesn't even appear in the bill or law? Could it be a subtle attempt to influence voters?

Finally, the wording about clergy refusing to solemnize or "recognize" marriages or accommodate "marriage celebrations" is imprecise, and troubling. It could more accurately read "Consistent with the First Amendment of the United States Constitution which protects the free exercise of religion, this bill makes clear that no priest, imam, rabbi, or other official of any religious organization has to solemnize or recognize any civil contract for marriage, and no religious organization or religious educational institution has to provide privileges or advantages to any people based on their civil contract for marriage."
Posted by notsojadedinseattle on February 17, 2012 at 11:51 PM · Report this
Bauhaus I 12
Do not let the mob get to tell you what your rights are! Storm the Supreme Court to abolish the practice of putting civil rights issues on the ballot. Our rights are guaranteed; they are not bestowed upon us by the masses or the legislature.
Posted by Bauhaus I on February 18, 2012 at 2:52 AM · Report this
NotSean 13
@11, good points.
Posted by NotSean on February 20, 2012 at 10:28 PM · Report this

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