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The next ‘Mass.’? Wash. high court to hear ‘gay marriage’ case in March

OLYMPIA, Wash. (BP)–If homosexual activists have their way, then sometime next year Washington state will become the second state in America to legalize same-sex “marriage.”

The Washington Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in a same-sex “marriage” case March 8, the court announced Nov. 16. If homosexual activists win, then the U.S. will have states on both coasts — Massachusetts is the other — issuing marriage licenses to homosexual couples. This summer Massachusetts became the first state to legalize same-sex “marriage,” thanks solely to a ruling by that state’s high court.

Social conservatives in Washington state have an uphill battle. Unlike some states that passed constitutional marriage amendments on Election Day, Washington does not permit citizen-driven petition drives for constitutional amendments. Instead, amendments must be initiated in the legislature.

Democrats — liberal-leaning in the state — won back the Senate and will control both chambers in the new session. An amendment would have to pass two-thirds of both the House and Senate before making it to the ballot. A marriage amendment is expected to be introduced in the new session, which begins Jan. 10.

“The legislature will have to rule on it before the people get a chance to vote,” Bob Higley, a lobbyist for Washington Evangelicals for Responsible Government (WERG), told Baptist Press. “[T]he likelihood of getting a two-thirds majority with the makeup of the current legislature is very remote.”

But social conservatives apparently have the support of the public. A poll by Wirthlin Worldwide released Nov. 17 showed that, when given an option, 57 percent of Washingtonians support the traditional definition of marriage, 41 percent prefer that marriage be defined as a “union between two loving adults regardless of their gender.” The poll of 402 adults was conducted Oct. 6-9 — before 11 states passed constitutional amendments on Election Day.

Despite public opposition to same-sex “marriage,” homosexual activists in the state seemingly have the momentum. In August and September two lower court judges struck down the state’s Defense of Marriage Act law, ruling that same-sex “marriage” must be legalized. Those rulings were stayed pending appeals, and the state Supreme Court allowed the cases to bypass the appeals court.

Attorney Steve O’Ban, who is scheduled to make arguments before the Supreme Court in March, says that the state has a legitimate reason to limit marriage to one man and one woman. In addition to representing WERG, O’Ban is representing two Washington state legislators and more than 30 African-American ministers.

“Marriage exists in the form it does because of the gender distinctions between men and women — they’re the only two that can form a baby and the only two that can model the different genders in a nurturing environment for children,” O’Ban, an Alliance Defense Fund-allied attorney, told BP.

“There are different methods that men and women bring to parenting that children need. They don’t need two fathers. They don’t need two mothers. They need a mother and a father.”

The Washington state legislature passed its Defense of Marriage Act in 1998, protecting the traditional definition of marriage and banning same-sex “marriage.” But the political and social climate has since changed. In the six years since the law was passed, four countries — the Netherlands, Belgium, Canada and the U.S. — have seen same-sex “marriage” legalized in at least one jurisdiction. More than half of Canada’s provinces have seen courts legalize same-sex “marriage.”

Traditionalists in Washington state did receive some good news on Election Day when the two Supreme Court justices backed by social conservatives — Richard Sanders and Jim Johnson — won. Washington state’s nine-member Supreme Court is elected, not appointed.

Perhaps just as significant, the attorney general’s race saw a conservative-backed candidate win. Republican Rob McKenna, who Higley said is a Christian, won the race. McKenna’s office will be responsible for representing the state and defending the marriage law before the high court.

“He will have a similar philosophy to what we have,” Higley said.

Including Washington, nine states are defending their marriage laws in court. Washington’s case is the only one currently before a state high court. Pro-family groups say the plethora of lawsuits points to the need for a marriage amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
For more information about the national debate over same-sex “marriage,” visit http://www.bpnews.net/samesexmarriage

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  • Michael Foust