Reject Referendum 74: Redefining marriage threatens children, business, liberties

Earlier this year, the Legislature passed a bill to redefine marriage by allowing same-sex marriage. Thanks to the signatures of nearly 250,000 Washingtonians, Referendum 74 is on the Nov. 6 ballot.

The Preserve Marriage Washington campaign urges voters not to redefine marriage and to mark “reject” for three reasons.

 • Same-sex couples in Washington already have full legal equality.

 • Marriage is more than recognizing the relationships of adults. It’s also about what’s best for children.

 • We must reject R-74 because of the profound consequences that our society will face if marriage is redefined.

In 2009, voters approved the “Everything but Marriage” law. That means a same-sex couple in Washington already has every legal right and obligation in Washington that an opposite-sex couple has. No exceptions. While Referendum 74 will not grant same-sex couples any new benefits, it will redefine marriage for everyone.

Children do best when raised by their married mom and dad. By making marriage genderless, the Legislature belittles the unique roles of moms and dads. Marriage is the only institution that not only unites a man and a woman with one another, but also with any children born to them. Children have a right to know and be cared for by their mom and dad. Stripping marriage of its male and female qualities will shift marriage from an institution that binds children to their parents to an arrangement focused on the personal desires of adults.

 • There will be profound consequences for anyone who disagrees with this new definition of marriage. A common myth is that somehow same-sex marriage will co-exist in the law alongside traditional marriage. But the truth is, when marriage is redefined it becomes the sole definition of marriage for everyone. Everyone in Washington must succumb to the new definition or face potential consequences.

Vincent Gray, the mayor of Washington, D.C., recently said in reference to supporters of traditional marriage that “there just is no place for them in this city.” The District of Columbia has redefined marriage and imposed same-sex marriage there. Gray’s statement shows how our liberties are at stake when marriage is redefined, for Gray suggests that supporters of traditional marriage have “no place” in our nation’s capital.

In states that have redefined marriage, there have already been consequences for those who support traditional marriage. For example, religious groups such as Catholic Charities in Boston and Washington, D.C., had to choose between fulfilling their social mission based on their religious beliefs or accepting this new definition of marriage. As a result, they closed their adoption programs.

Redefining marriage also influences our educational system and the rights of parents to direct their children’s upbringing. Whenever schools educate children about marriage, they have no realistic choice but to teach this new genderless institution. Remember, this new definition of marriage replaces traditional marriage. In Massachusetts, kids as young as second grade have been taught about homosexual marriage. The courts have ruled that parents had no right to prior notice or to opt their children out of such instruction.

When marriage is redefined, business owners also face consequences. Wedding professionals have been fined for refusing to participate in a same-sex ceremony. Innkeepers in Vermont had to pay more than $30,000 because of their refusal to make facilities available for a same-sex wedding reception. Doctors, lawyers, accountants and other professionals risk their state licensures for acting in concert with their beliefs.

When we reject Referendum 74, we are rejecting this kind of intolerance. Our children and grandchildren are depending on us to protect their freedom and their future.

We urge Washington voters to reject Referendum 74.

David Anderson is a Lakewood pastor. He wrote this on behalf of Preserve Marriage Washington (