Community Post

My family and your ballot

On November 7th, my son will wake us up early, just like he does every day.  Promptly at 6am he’ll tumble into our bed and tell us some tidbit of news he was thinking about when he woke up.

He’s 6. My wife and I love him so much it hurts. We love each other too. No decision Washington’s voters make on November 6th can change that. But when you vote on marriage equality – you can change something else.

When you vote on marriage equality you vote on the validity of my family in the eyes of the law.  An APPROVE vote will mean that my family has the same legal and economic protections as any opposite-sex married couple with kids.

And it means something else – it means that on November 7th, at breakfast, my wife and I don’t have to explain to our son why the voters of Washington don’t think our family is as good as his classmates’.

I know I’m married. I’ve known since the day 9 years ago when I stood with my wife in front of 100 of our friends and family, and made our vows to each other. We don’t count on the state to tell us who to love, or whether our family is right and good.

But we do count on the state for our legal and economic protections, and we count on voters to stand up for fairness and against discrimination, every time the rights of one group are put to the vote of the majority.

There are many struggles behind and us and ahead of us to ensure our laws and policies give everyone equal opportunity – this is just one. But it’s one chance we have to say YES to fairness, and I hope you’ll join me in voting APPROVE on Referendum 74. If enough of us do, then my family can have a regular morning at the breakfast table on November 7th, without having to explain to any six-year-olds why the voters in Washington decided that his family is somehow less a family than anyone else’s.

Posted by Siobhan Ring. My family and I are grateful to make our home in the Central District.

17 thoughts on “My family and your ballot

  1. The CD was the center of the Seattle Civil Rights movement in the 1970’s. I’d like to think ALL of my CD neighbors will vote to Approve. Won’t they? Won’t we? Thanks for posting this heartfelt personal story of how a NO vote affects your family. It seems crazy, deranged, selfish, backwards to say not give all the families equal rights and acknowledged respect.

  2. All peoples should be treated equaly under the law and customs of our society.

    That said. I am torn about the law. Generally I think we should get the government out fo determining the conditions, merits, or benefits of marriage. I am in an unmarried heterosexual family. Marriage is a religious and/or contractual obligation that I don’t want. However, so many institutions and customs give preference and benefit because of a religious commitment made. That is simply unconstitutional.

    So – While I ado agree that your family deserves the same respect as any – I would like to see the government out of validating what a family is.

    Not against you, just conflicted.

  3. I understand you totally – I personally think that the government should be totally and completely out of the religious business (re: marriage) If you want a contractual union, you should be able to get it (so the rights the state confers to married couples) no matter what type of sexual relationship you have and if you want a church ceremony of some sort you should be free to get that too, under the rules of what ever church you choose to belong to, but the two shouldn’t necessarily be tied together in any way.

    That said I don’t think the state is about to do that, so I will happily be voting for 74. I don’t think it’s worth having some families continue to have fewer rights by objecting on that technicality.

    I do hate to tell you this Grumbo… eventually if you stay in your relationship long enough, you will have that contractual agreement foisted upon you as a common law marriage. Sad fact isn’t it that you who have chosen not marry will have it given to you unwillingly, while some people who desire it are denied….

  4. Just to clarify, Grumbo – this only applies to civil marriage, not marriage through the church. The state doesn’t care if you have a religious ceremony in addition to getting your marriage license; rights are conferred through civil marriage only. Any talk of what this means for religious marriage is a non-starter and completely irrelevant.

    I for one hope you get to have a celebratory breakfast on November 7th, Siobhan and family!

  5. I think we mostly agree. Just want to clarify my concept that there should be no privilages, preferences, or requirements dictated by the goverment with respect to relationship or family status.

    The whole thing stems from a religious preference applied by the governments. The current effort is people trying to join the preferred class. I am against the discriminatory practice and don’t believe that it helps to add more beneficiaries.

    Traditional marriage is a crumbling institution. We could win this fight if we don’t join the other side. It simple is not the government’s or coroporations business what my family or relationship status is.

    Married – Unmarried, Black – White, Male – Female, Athiest – Evangelist, should all be compensated and taxed based on their merits. Not on the number of children they have. Not on their marriage status.

    I don’t want reckognition. The goverment should just see me as a single unit citizen. I vote. I should pay a tax rate identical to all other citizens. I should be elligable for a minimal set of benefits available to struggling people – as needed, etc. Let’s not give up on the possibility of a fair government.

    Good luck on November 7. Sounds like you have a great family. I’ll abstain.

  6. Hi Grumbo,

    Freedom to marry isn’t my top social justice concern (I’d like to see equal opportunity in our schools and an equitable criminal justice system too) – but I can’t ignore that it is on the ballot. The rights of one group are being put to a majority vote – and if we say no – or opt out – then the side that thinks we should reject fairness and equality might win. And that sends a much bigger message than “marriage is a bad structure”. The message that everyone will hear (and act on – in policy) is “Same-sex couples aren’t as good as opposite sex couples” and we don’t have to give them equal rights or equal respect. Or much worse. That’s not a message any of our kids should learn.

    So while I hear your concern about just propping up an institution you don’t think is a good one – I’m not convinced abstaining is the fair or hopeful response.

    Best wishes – Siobhan

  7. This (hetero) family also supports yours — we sent in our ballots last week with a big YES for 74!

  8. My boyfriend and I were happy to each cast a YES vote for 74. I look forward to the celebration when it passes and wish your family much positive energy. :)

  9. Hello Grumbo. I think I understand your reluctance and in part support a zero tolerance to feeding an institution you feel is fundamentally wrong, but the bottom line is that we are being asked to vote on whether a group of adults should or should not have the same civil rights as the rest of our adult population. We are not being asked to vote if we want to continue government involvement in marriage as a whole. The initiative is about looking at same sex couples as equal in the eyes of the law and as such they are afforded the same rights as anyone else. If you agree with that, then please vote in favor. The consequence of holding back a “yes” vote may be that one group of people will continue to be denied a right and process afforded to the rest. I feel doing all we can to avoid this possible consequence outweighs your valid, yet silent and ineffective protest. Every vote counts. Please reconsider. Thank you.

  10. I can appreciate your position too – I am married and I’m not sure why that should afford me stuff like tax breaks… the problem that I have not allowing some people marry is that it confers other rights that are very, very important.

    I’ve heard heartbreaking stories of people who in all other situations would have been considered married not even being allowed to visit their partner who was dying in the hospital because technically they were unrelated. That’s just wrong. What about kids…. consider that a lesbian couple who has a child has to jump through a bunch of legal hoops to have the partner adopt the child to have any parental rights… married couples obviously don’t have to do that. What an outcry there would be if every dad had to adopt his kids..

    I think there are also things to do with couples that aren’t necessarily rights, but more things that have to do with shared property, which can be trickier if you are not married. I’d make a guess that if you are a homosexual couple you better have an iron clad will written if your family is at all homophobic or greedy… I’d guess that breaking up, if that happens, can be messier too.

    I’m sure there are probably lots of other things that as a hetero, married person I’ve never even had to think about that people who are denied marriage do. At this point, what I believe about the separation of church and state can take a back burner as far as I’m concerned.