Same-sex marriage: Yes

Love is a wonderful thing.

And as much as many of us wish there was a way to control it or dictate who our loved ones choose to love, we can't. And that's part of what makes love so amazing.

We believe consenting adults in Washington should be able to love -- and marry -- who they want to. We've yet to hear a convincing argument that the government has any legitimate interest in limiting that right to heterosexual couples.

Can we trust people to always make the best decision in who they partner with? Of course not. The divorce rate is epidemic.

But love can make us believe we can defy the odds, and the ultimate expression of love for many people is marriage.

While we don't really believe the state should have a say in who we choose to love and ultimately marry, that very issue is on the ballot this fall with Referendum 74.

The Legislature made a brave decision to legalize same-sex marriage earlier this year and the governor signed it into law. Our lawmakers surely knew there would be a challenge from conservatives, and a petition campaign brought the issue to voters.

Opponents of same-sex marriage say Washington already affords civil rights to gay couples with its domestic partnership law. And while that law does afford some legal protections to couples who choose to register as such, it is not complete nor does it make things equal for all of our citizens.

The protections are really no more than any unmarried couple could get if they went to a lawyer and drafted powers of attorney and other documents. It has been called an "everything but marriage" law.

But that all seems very business-like and not very love-like.

We know same-sex marriage is a challenging topic. The beliefs of many are rooted in religions that prescribe marriage to be between a man and a woman and for the purpose of procreation.

The referendum specifically spells out that no church or religious official can be forced to perform same-sex marriages.

Even so, opponents argue that allowing same-sex marriages will have profound consequences for traditional couples.

We're sorry, folks, but times have changed. While you're entitled to your beliefs, those who think only men and women should be allowed to marry are out of touch with reality.

Many same-sex couples are raising children. And a same-sex couple really has to make a choice to have a child, unlike some heterosexual couples who bring babies into this world without any forethought. Hence, the high rate of single parents we see and the children who struggle because of it.

A same-sex couple does not have an easy path because discrimination still exists. It takes courage and commitment to walk that path together. But our state could help level the playing field, with a law that treats all couples who choose to marry equally, regardless of the gender of their partners. And that's what voters get to decide with Referendum 74.

In our view, all "marriages" are domestic partnerships at their base. If our domestic partnership law was more inclusive and less like a corporate contract than a marriage, it might be enough. But it is not.

Newspapers throughout Eastern Washington have endorsed Referendum 74 and we join them.

Let people love who they want to love. If that leads them to marriage, we should support them in that decision.

The Tri-City Herald editorial board recommends voters approve Referendum 74.