I want to take a moment of personal privilege to speak to you about Referendum 74 which will appear on the ballot this November.
Referendum 74, if passed, will preserve recently enacted Washington State legislation that would allow gay and lesbian couples to enter fully into the legal rights and responsibilities of marriage. I want to tell you why this matters to me.
When Barb and I initially formed our relationship there was no way to formally celebrate the love we had found. Instead we focused on gradually sharing the news with family, friends and co-workers.
We set up joint bank accounts, combined households, purchased our current home together, and became co-owners of two Hondas. We made wills, set up powers of attorney one for the other, and amended our beneficiaries on various documents.
In the year 2000 on a choral tour with The Esoterics we purchased wedding rings in Dublin, Ireland and decided that this was the time to make a more formal declaration of our love. At the end of our tour at Sloane Square Cathedral in London, England we held a “wedding” (of no legal standing) with The Rev. Peter Drury presiding.
As we continued to create our life together we learned that I would not be recognized as Barb’s spouse in the event of her death. Because of this legal impediment Barb would need to make a difficult and potentially less lucrative financial decision about her retirement in order that I might receive some benefit.
Two years ago, as the law allowed, we drove down to the Bank of America in Lake Forest Park to stand not in front of our family, friends and presiding pastor, but rather to stand in front of the bank teller and notary public who processed my twice monthly deposits to ask her to witness our domestic partnership signing. We carry these domestic partnership cards in our wallets so that in the event of an emergency we can offer some proof of the status of our relationship.
Just this year the Pension Fund of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) revised its own policies so that they might recognize all legal state “marriages” as being eligible for surviving spouse benefits, but does a legal domestic partnership count as marriage?
In other words, step by step we have done our best to put in place all the legal aspects of our life together that might assure some kind of recognition under the law of our intention to love and support one another throughout our lives, to be seen and known as a family.
Marriage matters to me because it is how our society understands relationship and love.
Marriage matters to me because it reflects how Barb and I understand our life together.
Marriage matters to me because I’m weary of wondering if this person or that institution will treat Barb and I differently because we lack legal standing.
Over the past few months I’ve been contacted by a few people asking if Queen Anne Christian Church could join with other communities of faith and endorse Referendum 74. I’ve had to tell them that we do not have a process in place by which we could make that decision as a congregation; I wish it were otherwise. However, we can still use this moment as an opening to deeper conversation with one another about the concerns of our hearts and minds.
It is my deepest hope that you, your neighbors, friends, co-workers, and family will vote yes for Referendum 74 and keep intact the Washington State legislation that would extend the legal rights and responsibilities of marriage to gay and lesbian couples.
blessings + peace, Laurie