February 5th, 2007

If marriage is for procreation, then...

In 1996, a bill passed in the United States Congress, was signed by Bill Clinton, and became Public Law 104-199. The law, which prohibits the recognition of same-sex marriage and declares "marriage" and "spouse" to refer only to opposite-sex pairings, is also known somewhat misleadingly as the "Defense of Marriage Act".

In 1998, Washington State passed its own Defense of Marriage Act at the state level.

In 2004, eight same-sex couples sued King County and the State of Washington in Andersen v. King County for refusing to issue them marriage licenses under the state law. The King County Superior Court ruled in favour of the couples, declaring the law unconstitutional.

The county and state appealed, and in July 2006, the Washington Supreme Court overturned the ruling. Although the Supreme Court's majority opinion admitted that "given the clear hardship faced by same sex couples evidenced in this lawsuit, the legislature may want to reexamine the impact of the marriage laws on all citizens of this state," it nonetheless concluded that "limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples furthers the State’s interests in procreation and encouraging families with a mother and father and children biologically related to both."

The Washington Defense of Marriage Alliance now seeks to challenge this ruling and the logic behind it — simply by putting it into law.

Their state initiative, Initiative 957, would add the phrase "who are capable of having children with one another" to the legal definition of marriage and require that married couples file proof of procreation within three years of marriage or have their marriage automatically annulled. Organizer Gregory Gadow explains their plan. The initiative has been accepted by the Washington Secretary of State and will need 225,000 signatures by July 6 to get on the ballot.