Today it was announced by the supporters of a same-sex marriage bill in Washington’s legislature that the bill has enough votes to pass in the senate. The bill already had enough votes to pass in the house of representatives. What this means is that we’re extremely close to having true marriage equality in the state of Washington. There are still a few complications that could happen, however. For instance, the bill could still go to a referendum. If critics of the bill are able to get enough signatures the new law would go to a vote, exactly like what happened with Senate Bill 5688, the bill that extended the same rights of civil marriage to domestic partners in the state of Washington. Well, almost all of the same rights. The one right that a domestic partnership doesn’t get is the right to be a real marriage. I love Levi, but our domestic partnership is not a marriage. We aren’t married. Sure we have the same rights as married, but we aren’t married.
We can’t say we have the same rights as somebody else, when somebody else has the right to a marriage and we don’t. This is the fundamental issue with a domestic partnership. No matter how many rights you give domestic partners, they will never be able to say they have a marriage because a domestic partnership was created to give same-sex partners similar rights while keeping them separate from heterosexual partners. (Why? Because, apparently, same-sex couples aren’t good enough to have the same title as heterosexual couples.) Keeping people separate but equal isn’t acceptable, and it’s a lesson we should have learned many years ago. Separate isn’t equal. Separate can’t be equal.
Equality is important. Not just so grown adults can have the right to say they are married, but so young gay children can look to the future and have hope. Hope that, one day, they too will be able to have a family like their heterosexual friends. Hope that, one day, they too will be able to marry the person they love – not just partner with them. (You see? It’s just not as nice..) Hope that, one day, they too will be accepted. No child should ever be told that they don’t deserve the same freedoms as another child.
While the support of our legislators is important, and exciting, it may not be enough. If this bill is passed it will, most certainly, come under attack by the same people who attacked Senate Bill 5688. If, and when, this happens we will need to fight just like we did before. The only difference is that today, we have the knowledge that we have won before and we can do it again; however, that knowledge could easily cloud our judgement. The fight isn’t over when the bill is passed. The fight is over when we no longer live in fear of losing our rights.
The fight is over when we can stop explaining to people what domestic partnerships are, and how they are “sort of like marriages.”