Washington law aims to support gay marriage

February 15th, 2007

Proponents of same sex marriage have introduced an initiative that will require heterosexual couples to have kids within three years or have their marriages annulled, according to The Associated Press.

“Initiative 957 was filed by the Washington Defense of Marriage Alliance, which was formed last summer after the state Supreme Court upheld Washington’s ban on same-sex marriage.”

In that 5-4 ruling, the court found that state lawmakers were justified in passing the 1998 Defense of Marriage Act, which restricts marriage to unions between a man and woman, according to The AP.

This I-957 will only apply to those couples that can have children. Before getting married, the couple would have to prove that they can have children in order to get a marriage license.

“All other marriages would be defined as ‘unrecognized’ and people in them would be ineligible to receive any marriage benefits. It’s absurd,” said Cheryl Haskins, executive director of Allies for Marriage & Children.

Haskins said opponents of same-sex marriage have never said that the sole purpose of marriage is procreation.

“When we talk about defending the institution of marriage, we’re talking about the union of a man and a woman,” she said. “Some of those unions produce children and some of them don’t.”

With I-957, it would be like dictating people’s choices in a way that is utterly ridiculous, Haskins said. The sponsor of the same-sex marriage measure in the House, Rep. Jamie Pedersen, said he supported the effort “to draw attention to the hypocrisy of some of those who oppose marriage equality” but opposed the initiative.

For the same reason, Pedersen doesn’t think same-sex couples should be excluded from marriage, nor should heterosexual married couples be forced to procreate, said Pedersen. “Supporters of I-957 must gather at least 224,800 valid signatures by July 6 to put it on the November ballot.”

Elizabeth Stiles, political science professor at John Carroll University, said, “Although the proposed initiative is a real initiative, I suspect its supporters do not expect it to pass. Instead, I believe that they want to attack the argument that gay people should not get married because they cannot have children.”

“The bill’s supporters want to point out that marriage is not the only reason heterosexuals marry and thus that particular argument against gay people marrying is a double standard,” Stiles said.

Already, 21 plaintiffs have sued the state of Michigan to keep benefits for their same-sex marriages after Michigan passed an amendment in 2004.