Nickels, Sims: Quit yappin’ and start doin’!
When I wrote out the list of cities supporting equal marriage rights last week, it was a little disappointing to not have Seattle in that list, too. Living in the area of Seattle I do (lower First Hill, within easy walking distance of Broadway/Capitol Hill), walking by the clubs I pass on the weekends on the way to the Vogue (R Place, Neighbors, the Wild Rose), and having been out at the Gay Pride festivities for the past few years, it always seemed to me that Seattle would be a natural for supporting this kind of movement.
And apparently, it could be…if only the local politicians would grow a spine, stop dilly-dallying, and actually do something.
When it comes to gay marriage, the difference between Seattle and San Francisco is the unwillingness of politicians here to push the issue. Although they would like you to believe otherwise, there is nothing stopping Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels and King County Executive Ron Sims from teaming up to make a San Francisco-style stand in favor of same-sex marriage rights.[…] Now is the perfect time for such a suit. Here’s why: Opponents of gay marriage would freak out, fearing a Washington ruling similar to the recent decision in Massachusetts ordering same-sex marriages to begin May 17. And their freakout would be well founded. The equal-protection and equal-rights language in Washington’s constitution is so strong, observers believe the state’s highest court would rule in favor of same-sex marriage. To head that scenario off at the pass, gay-marriage opponents would try to go above the heads of the Washington State Supreme Court justices by trying to amend the state constitution to prohibit gay marriage. But the amendment process begins in the state legislature, and the legislature is about to close up shop for the year, so the soonest anti-marriage forces could introduce their amendment would likely be 2005–which would give the courts enough time to rule on the Seattle/King County case, and gay-rights supporters enough time to rally the one-third of state senators or state reps that is needed to kill a proposed amendment. […] Both Nickels and Sims do seem rather oblivious to the tipping point the gay civil rights movement in this country has reached. Political leaders in other urban centers with large numbers of gay people get it, and they are pushing hard in the right direction. (Witness Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, speaking last week in support of gay marriage: “Marriage has been undermined by divorce, so don’t tell me about marriage. Don’t blame the gay and lesbian, transgender, and transsexual community. [They are] your doctors, your lawyers, your journalists. They are politicians. They have adopted children. To me, we have to understand that this is part and parcel of our families and extended families.”) When you consider that Seattle’s King County has a higher concentration of cohabitating gay and lesbian couples than Chicago’s Cook County, the fact that Nickels and Sims aren’t making a more forceful push for the marriage rights of gays and lesbians here becomes, quite simply, embarrassing.
p>It’s a shame that our elected representatives aren’t taking the initiative and using this opportunity to actually promote equal rights for everyone rather than just paying lip service to it.
iTunes: “Somebody Has to Pay” by van der Meer, Susie from the album Run Lola Run (1998, 3:25).