Approve R-74 campaign counters opponents' tired myths
by Shaun Knittel -
SGN Associate Editor
The campaign to Approve Referendum 74 in Washington state is going strong, spearheaded by the central campaign, Washington United for Marriage, and augmented by the Pride Foundation, Freedom to Marry's 'Why Marriage Matters Washington' voter education campaign, and the newly formed Social Outreach Seattle (SOSea), which I head.
The most important news item this week, with regard to the looming November 6 general election, is the fact that Washingtonians will soon begin to receive their mail-in ballots. This can make for an interesting campaign landscape because many voters, who have already decided how to vote on marriage equality and the presidential and gubernatorial races, will fill out their ballot and send it back almost immediately. But it is important to note that campaigning will not stop there. Washington United for Marriage has promised to continue pounding the pavement, knocking on doors, and making phone calls to ensure that undecided voters become pro-marriage equality supporters, and registered voters who need a little push to fill out their ballots and mail them in actually get that push.
But we aren't the only ones ratcheting up support. The bigots' PR machine has gone into overdrive, too. Luckily for us, they lie. We know this because most of what they say is nonsensical rhetoric and is easy to pick apart.
On October 11, Washington United for Marriage slammed Preserve Marriage Washington for its television ad that lays out old, false, and misleading claims about the freedom to marry.
'They are busted,' said Washington United for Marriage campaign manager Zach Silk. 'There is nothing new here, nothing that they haven't dredged up before, and nothing that's held up to the light of day. This is about one thing only - misleading and scaring voters. We believe people have wised up to these lies and understand that extending marriage to all loving couples is about fundamental fairness. Simply put, our law hurts no one, and better protects all loving couples and their families.'
Additionally, many of the most respected advocates of families and children have concluded that children fare just as well in homes headed by Gay or Lesbian parents and that by allowing those parents to marry, children are better protected.
o The American Psychological Association wrote: 'Overall, results of research suggest that the development, adjustment, and well-being of children with Lesbian and Gay parents do not differ markedly from that of children with heterosexual parents.'
o The American Academy of Pediatrics 'recognizes that a considerable body of professional literature provides evidence that children with parents who are homosexual can have the same advantages and the same expectations for health, adjustment, and development as can children whose parents are heterosexual.'
o The National Association of Social Workers said, 'Legislation legitimizing second-parent adoptions in same-sex households should be supported. Legislation seeking to restrict foster care and adoption by Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, or transgender people should be vigorously opposed.'
These researchers and organizations join several other professional organizations that have drawn the same conclusions.
'It's ironic to us that our opponents, who claim to oppose the freedom to marry on behalf of children and families, would actually seek to treat one set of children differently from another,' added Silk. 'If they really cared about doing all that we can as a society to help kids succeed and thrive, then they should embrace marriage for those parents so that all families are treated equally and fairly.'
CLAIMS VS. FACTS
Among the 'busted' claims in the anti-equality ad are these:
CLAIM: 'Gays and Lesbians already have the same legal rights as married couples.'
FACT: While domestic partnerships are legal in Washington, states that have passed such laws have found them to be fundamentally unequal and harmful. As the Supreme Court of Connecticut wrote in 2008 when it struck down a statute that prohibited same-sex marriage, civil unions and marriage 'are by no means 'equal.' The court explained in its opinion: 'Despite the truly laudable effort of the legislature in equalizing the legal rights afforded same-sex and opposite-sex couples, there is no doubt that civil unions enjoy a lesser status in our society than marriage.'
CLAIM: Marriage 'was created for the care and well-being of the next generation.'
FACT: Many households headed by same-sex couples in the U.S. are raising children. According to the U.S. Census, approximately 20 percent of same-sex couples are raising nearly 250,000 children. Children being raised by loving, committed same-sex couples - like all children - deserve the protections that come from allowing their parents to marry.
CLAIM: 'When laws like [R-74] have occurred elsewhere, people who disagree have faced lawsuits, fines, and punishment.'
FACT: A Seattle Times national investigation 'failed to turn up any evidence that same-sex marriage had produced a rash of suits involving businesspeople.' The newspaper 'also checked with human rights commissions in four of the six states where [same-sex] marriage is legal; the commissions said there was not an increase in discrimination findings or suits involving same-sex marriage.'
FOR THE RECORD
On October 17, Washington United for Marriage announced that more than 30 children and family advocacy organizations across the state have endorsed the group's work, noting that by affirming the law, Washington will show that it fully values and supports all families.
The endorsing organizations, which work with tens of thousands of families and children statewide, include the Washington Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (WCAAP), the Washington Academy of Family Physicians, and the Children's Alliance.
These leading family advocates concluded that giving all parents the ability to marry helps protects children and families in Washington. They are committed to the health, safety, and general well-being of children and their families, and provide services ranging from medical and mental health care, to legal and legislative advocacy, to primary and secondary education.
'There is growing evidence in the medical literature that marriage has health benefits both for the married adults and especially for their children,' said Dr. Anne Montgomery, president of the Washington Academy of Family Physicians. 'The Washington Academy of Family Physicians supports Referendum 74 because we work for optimal health for all families.'
Another endorsing organization is WCAAP, which has a long history of advocating for Washington's children, their families, and their health care providers. Nearly 1000 pediatricians, including general pediatricians, sub-specialists, and hospitalists, are members of the WCAAP.
'The WCAAP joins the national American Academy of Pediatrics and a number of other state chapters in concluding that marriage promotes equal health, developmental opportunities, and the general well-being of all children,' said F. Curt Bennett, M.D., president of WCAAP.
'One of the core values of this state is promoting healthy, strong children and families because all children deserve stable, loving parents,' said Washington State Rep. Ruth Kagi, chair of the House Early Learning & Human Services Committee, which considers issues relating to early childhood education and a broad array of other issues affecting children and families. 'After looking at this issue for many years, and hearing from constituents all across our districts about why marriage matters to their families, supporting the freedom to marry was an easy vote for me and many of my colleagues.'
'Children of same-sex couples are in schools, playgrounds, and neighborhoods throughout Washington,' said Jon Gould, deputy director of the Children's Alliance. 'We know that all parents want a safe and supportive environment for their children to grow up in. That is why the Children's Alliance encourages all voters to vote Approve on Referendum 74 and affirm the value of every family and every child.'
'These leading advocates recognize that in Washington, we care about all children, and that means supporting the freedom to marry, which helps protect parents and their families from whatever may come their way,' said Washington United for Marriage campaign chair Lacey All. 'They know that Washington's kids grow up in all kinds of families and that supporting Referendum 74 means valuing and respecting all families.'
R-74 WOULD BOOST THE ECONOMY
Also this week, the campaign to Approve Referendum 74 chastised opponents for making a false business case in their effort to overturn the bipartisan marriage law that simply gives all loving couples the freedom to marry.
'With 488 business endorsements ranging from small, downtown shops to iconic Washington employers like Microsoft, Starbucks, REI, Nordstrom, Google, Amazon, and Alcoa, as well as leading business organizations like the Seattle Chamber of Commerce, opponents are clearly seizing on arguments that fly in the face of real-life business experience and contradict studies which show that same-sex marriage would immediately contribute to the economic engine of the state,' officials said in a press release.
According to the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law, about 9,500 same-sex couples would marry within the first three years of the law, creating an $88 million boost to the state and local economy, with a $57 million boost the first year alone. In addition, the Institute concludes that those marriages would add $8 million in tax revenue to state and local coffers, with an additional $5 million in the first year.
'To assert that just one social indicator illustrates the fate of a state's economic strength or weakness is to oversimplify all that should be taken into account to paint a clear picture of a region's vitality,' said George Allen, senior vice president for government relations at the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce. 'The Chamber regularly reaches out to employers and as such knows full well that fostering an open, inclusive, and inviting workforce is one of the pillars to job creation and economic vibrancy.'
'This is just gobbledygook,' said Silk about opponents' claims that states without the freedom to marry fare better economically. 'If this were all about static economic charts, then the leading businesspeople and corporate leaders throughout the state would not be standing behind our effort to defend the state's marriage law and approve Referendum 74. With no one standing with them, I guess the next best thing is to throw some malarkey up against the wall and hope it sticks.'
SMALL BUSINESSES AND R-74
In addition, small business has lined up behind Referendum 74 because they believe it best reflects their community and sends a message to both customers and employees alike. 'I support Referendum 74 because the marriage law treats everyone fairly and equally under the law and that means a lot to both my customers and the people who work for me,' said Alison Collins, who owns Boots Bakery & Lounge in Spokane and employs 12 people.
Added Don Orange, owner of Hoesly Auto and Tire in Vancouver, which supports four family-wage jobs, 'From a business perspective, this will draw business to our state. I am in Vancouver, and I'm right across the Oregon border. When marriage was legal in California, people went there to get married and I fully expect folks to do the same right here in Vancouver, and that will help all of us.'
More specifically, Iowa and New York, two states that recently passed laws allowing the freedom to marry, have seen an immediate uptick in revenue as a result. In the first year after Iowa legalized same-sex marriage, wedding arrangements and tourism generated $12 million to $13 million in economic activity and nearly $1 million in tax revenue. In the year following New York's passage of marriage equality, same-sex marriage generated $259 million in economic activity for New York City alone.
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