Photo caption: South Puget Sound Community College student, senator, and Pride co-chair Matthew Shrader (second from left) with Gov. Chris Gregoire. Photo courtesy Matthew Shrader
The legalization of same-sex marriage in Washington has given the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) community greater hope towards what the future holds for them.
On Monday Feb. 13, Washington became the seventh state in the Union to legalize same-sex marriage. The legislation sailed through the Senate by a majority vote of 28-21 with four Republicans crossing party lines. The bill passed the House only days later and was signed into law by Gov. Chris Gregoire in the reception room of the Olympia statehouse.
The statute will not take effect until early June. According to state law the legislation cannot go into effect until at least 90 days after the current legislative session ends.
Gay marriage opponents are collecting signatures for a referendum. If they collect enough signatures, approximately 120,000, then an option to vote against the gay marriage law will be on the ballot. The opposition hopes that at that time, enough citizens will vote to reverse the legislature’s decision.
South Puget Sound Community College Student Senator, and Chair of Capital City Pride Matthew Shrader believes that even if enough signatures are collected Washington will continue to support the legislature’s decision.
Shrader has been personally involved in gay rights activism for over three years.
According to Shrader, the success of this law is important to many in the LGBTQ community including his uncles who have been together for over 15 years. They plan to marry right once the law goes into effect with a venue already booked.
According to SPSCC Sociology Professor Erica Dixon, increased acceptance of same-sex marriages will reduce discrimination against gay couples and their children, as well as lower the rate of depression and suicides in the gay community.
Dixon also said that continuing to legalize same-sex marriage will assist society to understand “human rights means rights for all and not only a privileged group.”
SPSCC Psychology Professor April Kindrick said, “I appreciate seeing people stand up and fight for what they believe in” pointing out that only 45 years ago the Supreme Court ruled inter-racial marriage constitutional.
Washington State is only one of seven states that has legalized same-sex marriage. With 43 more to go, this controversial issue is long from resolution.
Matthew Shrader said that supporters of gay rights need to “celebrate today, defend tomorrow, and win in November.”