Saturday, December 24, 2005

Another Thursday in Washington State – Yawn

You don't need to be an original 13 colony to have quaint in America. Take Washington State. Its Supreme Court issues decisions on Thursday. Yours didn't come around this week? Tough. Maybe next time.

Thousands of same-sex couples are more than just anxious. Another week went by. There's no action before the year turns. So, it will be some time in early 2006 that they find out if they can do that Massachusetts thing, join this century, be legal, be married, be protected.

If the court ruled in their favor this week, gay couples would become married on Christmas Eve. There's a present of equality.

This is a precursor for what is likely in numerous states. A suit by eight couples has been through the win/appeal process all the way, starting in August 2004. Waaay back then, King County (Seattle's) Superior Court Judge Wiliam Downing ruled in their favor, saying that (like Massachusetts) Washington has a constitution that permits and does not forbid homosexual marriage.

A month later, a Thurston County court ruled similarly.

The appeals by the counties and state plodded to the top court. They rest on arguments related the Washington constitution, Article 1. Section 12., which reads:
No law shall be passed granting to any citizen, class of citizens, or corporation other than municipal, privileges or immunities which upon the same terms shall not equally belong to all citizens, or corporations.
This is legally similar to Massachusetts' in that it is so New World, so American that what is not forbidden is allowed. It seems like we built a nation on that principle.

Also, as in Massachusetts, the real question is to whom can clerks issue marriage licenses? If some Thursday, the six men and three women, rule in favor of issuing licenses to same-sex couples, a queue of same-sex couples is immediately ready to sign up.

At the same time, on their predicted 18 hours notice, Equal Rights Washington has a program of celebratory events schedules. And, of course, anti-SSM forces would plan to begin a Massachusetts-style drive to amend the constitution.

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