Protect Marriage Washington, sponsor of the reject Referendum 71 campaign, argued that the "everything but marriage law" was a slippery slope to granting gay and lesbian couples the "m" word. Activists insisted that no, marriage is a separate issue. You can still hold your anti-gay biases and vote for expanded rights, they said.
How do you know it's a gay pride celebration? The marching band playing "Thriller" before breakfast.
Well turns out Protect Marriage was right--this was a step in the push for getting to gay marriage.Supporters of gay rights celebrated R-71's passage over french toast this morning at the Downtown Seattle Hilton. But the breakfast was not so much a pat on the back to the activists, volunteers and campaigners who pushed it to a 53 percent victory. This morning marked the beginning of the next stage of the fight. "We cannot stop working until we achieve full marriage equality for gays and lesbians in this great nation," State Senator Ed Murray declared to applause.
And why would they stop? Gays and lesbian couples are now treated equally under Washington state law, but still defined separately under the title "domestic partners."
"Separate but equal" was ruled unconstitutional with respect to race by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1954. Despite using the concept to win much-needed rights for gay and lesbian families living in the state right now, advocates working with Equal Rights Washington, which hosted this morning's breakfast, are determined to get that elusive "M" word next. Charlene Strong, who was unable to see her partner in the hospital where she died, asked breakfasters to pledge $71 a month to Equal Rights until that goal is met.
To that end, they will have some high-powered help. The breakfast this morning wasn't a group of fringe activists. The Rainbow City Band marched in playing "Thriller", followed by Governor Christine Gregoire, Rep. Jim McDermott, several state legislators, King County Executive-elect Dow Constantine and Mayor-elect Mike McGinn. (Mayor-not-elect Joe Mallahan gamely applauded when McDermott introduced his former rival.)
With mainstream government officials at their backs, the LGBTQ community and the people that love them are not only pushing for marriage, they might have the upper hand in getting there.