Council President Peterson, Councilmember Plunkett:
Thank you for introducing a resolution of support for marriage equality in Washington State. Edmonds joins, King County, The City of Tacoma and many other communities in voicing your support. I hope that all counilmembers and the mayor will speak out in favor of this issue. I encourage the mayor to join Tacoma Mayor Strickland and others from around our nation in joining the Mayors for Marriage Equality.
I have chosen not to be silent but to speak up, to stand with my gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered brothers and sisters. I challenge my fellow straight Washingtonians to do the same. I challenge my Christian brothers and sisters to do the same. I challenge people of all faiths, and people who are of good will but nonreligious, to all join together, make a stand, and bring marriage equality to our great state.
Why would I, a straight Christian male who spent 13 years in elected office, take a position in favor of marriage equality when it would be so much easier to stay silent? The answer is simple, the God I was raised to believe in said all are equal and should be treated with love.
When I was in the Washington State House of Representative, the legislature passed the “Defense of Marriage Act” and sent it to Governor Locke, who in his wisdom vetoed the act. My political advisors said if I voted no on the DOMA, I would never be re-elected, but I could not do that because I was brought up as a Christian to love all people and not discriminate. My answer to my friends and advisors was, “if the voters want me out of office for loving others and voting the way I am led in my heart then so be it.” I was elected to pubic office four more times.
What is the overall message of the Bible: is it condemnation or grace? The Jesus I hear in the Bible speaks a message of grace and love: He talks about God’s love for us and asks us to love God and each other. In any marriage two people are declaring their love for each other in a formal ceremony. In a church ceremony, they declare to the world their commitment to each other and God. When same-sex couples have that right, it will be a gift to us all.
In the coming weeks, our Senator and Representatives will be struggling with this issue, some through faith and some through politics; struggling to decide the future of equality in Washington. I know many of these people and believe that they will make their decision based on conviction. I do not believe for a minute they are hateful if they vote “No” or lack faith in God if the vote ”Yes”.
It is not easy to reconcile one’s faith and civil rights, but it really is a matter of equal treatment for all God’s children under the law.
A pastor who testified in today’s hearing said it best, the state issues the license and the church blesses the relationship if they choose.