As I mentioned yesterday, I once again am sitting in a coffee shop blogging today. Levi chose to work on his paper today instead of yesterday, which is why we are here. The only problem is that Levi is still protesting the paper writing, and this place closes in an hour. He has only just now come up with a topic after almost an hour of thinking. (He is writing an example essay about the different types of essays.. which is only slightly ridiculous..) I probably shouldn’t say that him protesting is the only problem, there is one other problem we’re having – the drinks are terrible. They didn’t have spiced chai at this Forza, so they recommended oregon and just put cinnamon in it – I’ve never had oregon chai so I didn’t realize how terrible this drink was going to be. I got a backup mocha, which is kind of awkwardly flavored too – it tastes burnt. We probably won’t come to this particular Forza again. (The one near our house closes early, so we settled for this one.)
Governor Chris Gregoire signed the marriage equality bill this afternoon, just like she said she would. This means that in 90 days it will go into effect. The last hurdle to get over is the referendum process. The people who do not support the bill will soon be out in full force, collecting signatures to get the bill on the November election ballot. You will likely be approached by these individuals outside of grocery stores and other retailers. If you are approached by one of the individuals, make sure you know what it is you are signing – they may try to mislead you so make sure you read anything they try to get you to sign. (Or even better, ignore them completely.) I know from personal experience that it can be difficult to ignore these people, they are pushy and usually very impolite when they have a cause.
Fighting the inevitable referendum process won’t be easy. People are very opinionated when it comes to marriage, and the same people who supported the idea of extending the benefits of marriage to domestic partners in Washington may not be supportive of the idea of granting the actual right to a civil marriage to gays and lesbians. When a domestic partnership is involved, people tend to think that the union doesn’t really encroach on the “fundamentals” of religious marriage. A civil marriage on the other hand, shares a name in common with religious marriage so people are oftentimes confused about the differences. A civil marriage is not a religious marriage. In fact, a couple can be married under the church of their choice and never even file for a civil marriage. This doesn’t mean their religious marriage isn’t valid, it just means that they don’t have a civil marriage – the two are completely different.
The reason why I write this post is that we aren’t done fighting. We won’t be done fighting until we no longer live in fear of having our rights taken away from us. While the governor has signed the bill, it is not yet a valid law and will not be for some time. If we lose sight of our final goal in the haze of a small victory, we may lose what we have fought so hard to gain – just like the good people of California did when they lost their battle against Proposition 8. They have since regained the right to marriage, but the same stroke of luck may not rear its head in Washington should we lose the referendum process. Furthermore, even though we have almost achieved equality on the state level, the federal government still does not recognize our unions and will not until the Defense of Marriage Act is overturned.
There is still so much more we have to fight for and getting distracted now could prove to be a big mistake in the long run. Remember, when someone comes up to you to ask you to sign a petition to have the marriage equality bill put to a vote, don’t sign it. Even though it will likely go to a vote anyway, every person who refuses to sign is making a positive difference in the world. Also remember, if the bill does go to a vote, make sure you vote to approve the referendum and remember to pay attention to any other items on the ballot that might be related. You can also help by telling your friends and family about marriage equality and why it is so important. Remember, being silent about what is right is doing a disservice to your friends and family who are hoping and praying that they can one day enjoy the same rights as heterosexual couples.