Challenging the latest release from Washington’s four Catholic bishops that calls on parishioners to reject Referendum 74 and the freedom to marry, Washington United for Marriage (WUM) today launched marriagefactcheck.com
FACT: Including loving gay and lesbian couples in civil marriage does not in any way impact or change anyone else’s marriage or family. Many heterosexual couples marry and never have children, but want the bond and commitment that is universally understood when they marry. Additionally, marriage ensures that children of same-sex couples are fully protected under the law.
FACT: The new law does not affect religious marriages, religious institutions or clergy in any way. No religion would be forced to marry gay and lesbian couples, or recognize those marriages. In fact, the law specifically protects religiou
s liberty and faith leaders are free to either support the freedom to marry — as a growing number now do — or proselytize against it. Religious exemptions of this kind are now becoming the norm in marriage equality laws – as seen in New York, Connecticut, Vermont, and Maryland.
FACT: Again, the new marriage law expressly protects the right of free speech and religious speech. It simply allows all loving couples to enter into a civil marriage. In fact, the text of R74 explicitly states: “A regularly licensed or ordained minister or priest, imam, rabbi, or similar official shall be immune from any civil claim or cause of action based on a refusal to solemnize or recognize a marriage under this section…”
FACT: The bishops like to refer to suspension of services, most notably in Massachusetts, Washington, DC and Illinois, where each Catholic charity made a decision to abandon adoption services rather than comply with existing non-discrimination laws that apply to any entity receiving state funds. Furthermore, in all cases, the conflict arose over long-standing non-discrimination laws that have nothing to do with same-sex marriage. And in the most recent case in Illinois, after getting rebuffed, the Church finally abandoned its lawsuit altogether. Finally, in each case, state and city agencies quickly moved to transfer those service to adoption and foster care agencies that would consider qualified gay and lesbian applicants.
FACT: States that have passed civil unions have found them to be fundamentally unequal. After New Jersey enacted civil unions, in 2008, an independent Civil Union Review Commission issued a report arguing that the civil union act “invites and encourages unequal treatment of same-sex couples and their children.” A commission in Vermont drew similar conclusions in 2008, nearly a decade after it passed its civil union law. Also in 2008, the Supreme Court of Connecticut struck down a statute that prohibited same-sex marriage, finding that civil unions and marriage “are by no means ‘equal.’”
FACT: A wealth of legitimate social research has found children of same-sex couples do not experience negative outcomes because of their parents’ gender. In 2010, sociologists Judith Stacey (NYU) and Tim Biblarz (USC) conducted a review of nearly every study on gay parenting. They found that, “Current claims that children need both a mother and father are spurious…” And 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.” (More here, here and here.)