The Supreme Court ruling brought cheers from local gay and lesbian leaders, although it will have limited impact on same-sex couples in the state.
Local gay and lesbian leaders cheered the Supreme Court ruling allowing same-sex marriage, although it will have limited impact on Washington’s same-sex couples.
How were they feeling?
“Giddy,” said Kris Hermanns, executive director of the Pride Foundation.
“Excited,” said state Sen. Jamie Pedersen, D-Seattle, who was instrumental in bringing marriage equality to Washington.
And relieved: “There’s a great sense of peace that this is finally over after all these years,” Pedersen said.
“It just feels a little overwhelming. When you put your head down for so long and work so hard,” Hermanns said.
Because state voters approved same-sex marriage in 2012, Washington law is not affected by the high-court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges.
But Washington’s same-sex couples could feel some change. When they travel in the states that had banned same-sex marriage, their marriages will be legally recognized and they will be accorded the same rights as opposite-sex couples, such as visitation rights should a spouse end up in a hospital.
Pedersen plans to travel this summer with his husband and four children to southern states including Georgia, which had banned same-sex marriage.
“When traveling we’ll be able to take for granted what other married couples would in the event of a car accident or something that leads to a hospital” stay, said Pedersen, a lawyer long active in marriage-equality issues.
Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, who led the effort for marriage equality during his time in the state Senate, was greeted by employees at a City Hall news conference Friday morning with festive applause.
“Good morning,” the mayor said.
“Isn’t it?” some replied.
“I never imagined this day. I never imagined myself as an elected official,” said Murray, whose husband, Michael Shiosaki, stood next to him.
On Murray’s other side during the news conference was City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen, who took a moment to reflect. As a gay man, Rasmussen said he once couldn’t conceive of holding office.
When he graduated from law school, Rasmussen said, he couldn’t even envision holding a job or having an apartment because of long-standing discrimination.
“This day is a dream,” Rasmussen said. “It seems like an impossible dream.”
Pedersen and Hermanns said their advocacy for LGBT people would continue.
“There’s a lot more work to do both here in our state and even more nationally,” Pedersen said. “We know a hugely disproportionate number of homeless youth are LGBT … We’re only now beginning to wrestle with a whole range of issues for transgender people.”
Advocates will be watching to see if states that have banned same-sex marriage will respect parental rights of same-sex couples, said David Ward, staff attorney for Legal Voice, a women’s-rights group that has argued for marriage equality.
Some states have laws that define mothers and fathers in ways that may bar the parental rights of gay people, Ward said. “We need to make sure the parental rights of same-sex couples will be respected in all 50 states.”
Some were disappointed by Friday’s ruling.
Pastor Joe Fuiten, of Cedar Park Church, was in Israel, leading a tour group, when he got the news.
Fuiten opposed the 2012 state ballot measure that put Washington among the first states whose voters approved marriage equality.
“In Washington state at least we had the dignity of voting. The Supreme Court decision was just imposed on the nation,” he said. “This is King George in black robes. We fought a revolution over this sort of stuff getting jammed down our throats.”
Fuiten said he doesn’t feel he is on the wrong side of history.
“That’s a nonsense comment. If history means the last 20 years, then maybe I’m on the wrong side. But history isn’t the last 20 years and we’re a long way from knowing the ultimate outcome of this,” he said.
The pastor said he’s never taken his cues from the courts. “I’m a preacher of the Gospel. The Bible is what governs my life and values.”
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As for those celebrating the court’s decision, Fuiten said he might congratulate them on their political success. “It’s clearly a victory for them, but I’m afraid it could be a fairly empty victory.”
The Family Policy Institute of Washington also criticized the court for not letting voters decide.
“The freedom to democratically address the most pressing social issues of the day is the heart of liberty. Today, the court stripped the people of that freedom,” said Joseph Backholm, executive director of the institute, in a written statement.
Backholm also said he was concerned about the ruling’s impact on religious freedom. “The decision poses a tremendous threat to religious liberties and will have future ramifications on schools, churches, nonprofits and private businesses,” he said.
Meanwhile, in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood, people gearing up for PrideFest weekend woke up Friday to another reason for celebration.
Jeremie Leverich and his partner, Cobie OBrien, were late to work after watching the news of the ruling on TV. The two plan to be married Aug. 2.
“I feel like our marriage is going to be more federally legitimized,” OBrien said. “That’s a monumental thing for me.”
Chandra Chenvert, 42, waited to enter a rainbow crosswalk with her daughter. Chenvert said she went to her first Pride celebration when she was 10 and saw a sign saying, “I love my mommy just the way she is.” Chenvert, who is bisexual, said the message stuck with her. Now her daughter, 12, “gets to witness this,” she said. “It’s about time.”
Later, during the early-evening rush hour, hundreds gathered outside the U.S. District Court for a rally.
The crowd sported rainbow buttons, bow ties, balloons and beads — and the celebration began with song: “Another One Bites the Dust,” performed by members of the Seattle Men’s and Seattle Women’s Chorus.
“Welcome to the other side of the rainbow,” Murray told the crowd.
Notable tweets from Friday