Four Washington Newspapers Endorse Marriage Equality

Four mainstream newspapers in Washington State came out in support of Referendum 74, the bipartisan effort to maintain marriage equality in the northwestern state.

BY Sunnivie Brydum

September 17 2012 3:36 PM ET

The editorial boards of four leading newspapers in Washington State each endorsed marriage equality and came out in support of Referendum 74, which seeks to uphold a marriage equality law passed by the legislature and signed by the governor. The Seattle Times, The News Tribune, the Spokesman Review, and The Columbian all endorsed R-74 and the freedom to marry, Washington United for Marriage reported Monday.

In addition to a hearty endorsement of marriage equality and a social media–ready badge proclaiming "I Do Approve Referendum 74," The Seattle Times also published a piece detailing the editorial board's journey to supporting the freedom to marry. The change of heart, it seems, came from the younger members of the Blethen family, which has been publishing the Times for 116 years.

In 2000 the Times reversed its strong opposition to relationship recognition for gay and lesbian couples at the urging of the fifth generation of the Blethen family. 

"Seven cousins, then ranging in age from 21 to 30 ... were all in agreement: the time for civil unions had come," said the Times.

The News Tribune, which serves Tacoma and Pierce County, just south of Seattle, kept the rhetoric simple in its editorial endorsement for Referendum 74: "Why [Washingtonians] should vote yes can be summed up in one word. Equality."

The Columbian, which serves the greater Vancouver, Wash., area, pointed out that since the state already embraces civil unions, it's only logical to support full civil marriage for same-sex couples.

"Some will argue that gays and lesbians already have all the necessary legal rights, so why do we have to allow them to get married?" write The Columbian editors, who first endorsed marriage equality nearly a decade ago. "That argument defeats itself. The more logical question: since gays and lesbians already have all necessary legal rights anyway, why NOT allow them to get married? Try as they might, foes of R-74 cannot provide a compelling answer."

The Spokane-based Spokesman Review cites the recycled rhetoric of historic opposition to interracial marriage, which was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1967's Loving v. Virginia.

"It's not appropriate for citizens to vote on basic civil rights," says the Spokesman Review's editorial board. "But since the question is on the ballot, we hope Washingtonians will affirm the courageous and compassionate law adopted by the Legislature last spring."

The four endorsements from major Washington papers followed on the heels of the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin's endorsement last Wednesday.

"We are grateful that these five leading Washington newspapers have decided to weigh in on the importance of approving Referendum 74," said Washington United for Marriage campaign manager Zach Silk in a press release. "Taken together, these five papers represent distinct and very different regions of the state and show how broad and deep the support is for our bipartisan marriage law."

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