Washington Media Slams Referendum 71 but Misses the Truth About Domestic Partnerships

Media in Washington State are supporting full Domestic Partnerships and slamming Referendum 71, which seeks to repeal the Domestic Partnership Expansion Bill of 2009.  And it's not just Seattle-area papers and television, it's papers across the state like the Everett Herald, Yakima Herald-Republic and Spokane Statesman-Review.  

The media support for the DP bill is significant, and must be really demoralizing to the anti-equality sector if it's making me so happy. :D  However, the press has yet to examine the frequent claim that domestic partnerships are "everything but marriage".  Larry Stickney, who filed the referendum paperwork on behalf of Oregonian Gary Randall, frequently makes statements like this:

"It is everything but marriage without the word, but it elevates the homosexual relationship to the same level as marriage," he said. "There's no legal difference. All it is is the name."

To be fair, Washington state legislators have also used the term "everything but marriage" when lobbying for the domestic partnership expansion bill.  And it made some sense in the narrow legalistic context in which they were working, because they needed to be clear that DPs were to become the legal equivalent to civil marriage in the eyes of the government of the State of Washington.  But when viewed in the broader legal and social contexts in which we all live, DPs are NOT equal to marriage.  Here are just a few ways:

  • Married and partnered couples may be equal under state law, but the State is still treating same-sex couples differently by making sure that they are not equal under federal law.  By prohibiting same-sex couples from getting a marriage license, Washington State is not asking the federal government to confer the 1138 federal rights, responsibilities and benefits of marriage to these couples.  These include Social Security benefits; veterans benefits; equal treatment under the tax code; and the right to sponsor non-American family members, including a spouse, for permanent residency or citizenship.  
  • Domestic Partnerships evaporate at the state line, for the most part.  Civil marriages are universally understood and recognized.
  • Using the term "domestic partnership" sends a clear signal to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth that they and their relationships are inferior.  We all know where relentless browbeating of youth can lead.

    Since we know that DPs are NOT equal to marriage, why would Larry Stickney be using the slogan?  Simple:  since a vast majority (66%) of Washingtonians support DPs but a bare 50% oppose marriage equality, Larry knows that the only way to get support for Oregon Gary's referendum is to trick the public into believing that Referendum 71 is somehow magically about a marriage law and not about an incremental DP law.

    Hopefully the media will keep a critical eye on how Larry is pitching Oregon Gary's referendum, and explore the substantial ways that domestic partnerships are NOT "marriage in all but name".

    >> Larry Stickney's Referendum 71 Has No Support from its Natural Allies
    >> Would You Give Larry Stickney Your Money?
    >> Gary Randall's Fundraising Shell Game
    >> Oregonian Gary Randall's History of Manipulating Washington State Voters
    >> Why is Gary Randall really Dangling the Referendum Carrot?
    >> Ken Hutcherson & Sidekick Give Limp Performance on KING5's "Up Front"
    >> CBS Poll: Support For Marriage Equality Growing

  • < Take Action-Call Sen. Cantwell | On A May-December Romance, Part Two, Or, Las Vegas, Integrated >
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    From the sec. of state's office tweets this morning:
        "FYI - OSOS will not get the paperwork for Ref. 71 back from the AG till Gov. Gregoire takes action on SB 5688."

    by monam on Tue May 12, 2009 at 06:05:18 AM PST

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