Protesters plan a message for state's justices




They're calling it the "Mayday for Marriage."

Thousands of demonstrators from around the state are expected to gather Tuesday outside the state Supreme Court's chambers to rally for man-woman marriage as the justices hear oral arguments on whether same-sex couples should have the right to marry.
"We are pro-authentic marriage," said Joseph Fuiten, president of Bothell-based Washington Evangelicals for Responsible Government, which is organizing the rally. "We believe that both a mother and a father are necessary and that children can do better when they are raised in that environment."

Last year, two lawsuits were filed on behalf of 19 gay and lesbian couples arguing that Washington's ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional.

A Thurston County judge and a King County judge both struck down the law, and the cases were joined for review by the state's highest court. Supporters of the couples and proponents of gay marriage also are expected to gather Tuesday on the Capitol Campus.

Fuiten said he thinks the lower-court judges overstepped their judicial authority.

"We're not just talking about freedom here. The issue here is what should be favored. What should be favored in our view is the kind of arrangement that is most conducive to a child having a mother and a father," he said.

Assistant Attorney General Bill Collins, who is representing the state, argued in court last year that same-sex unions are not rooted in the country's history and traditions and, therefore, are not a fundamental right.

Collins said the state recognizes marriage as a means for procreation, and that's why certain privileges are extended to married couples in hopes of creating a stable environment for children.

One issue raised in the Thurston County lawsuit that the court will be asked to consider is whether the state constitution would provide greater protections for gays and lesbians than the federal Constitution.

"We hope the court finds the reasoning of the cases we cite as persuasive," Collins said.

Terry Whitlock, 66, of Olympia plans to take time away from his day to attend the rally.

"I almost imagine that some people are going to be there because they're against homosexuality. I'm not going for that reason at all. I'm going because I believe traditional marriage is right," said Whitlock, who is married and has two grown children.

"A big part of why I'm going there is if the court intends to redefine marriage from what it has always been, where does that stop? Where does that end?"

Fuiten said he thinks there should be more public debate about the issue instead of letting the courts decide.

Fuiten thinks that if the court strikes down Washington's Defense of Marriage Act, it will undermine traditional marriage, much like no-fault divorce has done, he said.

Stephanie Coontz, a professor of history and family studies at The Evegreen State College, said gays and lesbians are responding to changes in marriage that started with heterosexual couples.

She said that marriage has lost its monopoly over people's social and economic lives, especially for women, and therefore has become more about love and more optional, instead of being an expectation or a requirement.

"How that really plays out to many things is that people are saying that if people aren't in love, they shouldn't have to get married, and if they are in love, that trumps all other considerations," she said.

"I think it's not surprising you get both a certain group of heterosexuals saying that 'I'm going to live outside of marriage' and certain groups of gays and lesbians saying 'I want to live inside of marriage,' " she said.

Scott Gutierrez covers crime and public safety for The Olympian. He can be reached at 360-754-5465 or



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