Gay and lesbian
couples have asked the Washington State supreme
court to reconsider its endorsement of Washington's same-sex
marriage ban, saying the court's flawed reasoning
ignored legal protections against sex discrimination.
Such requests to the high court rarely are granted,
but attorneys in the case said Tuesday the stakes were too
high to let the opportunity pass.
"We felt that we
had to use every option available to us to show the
justices the logic behind our arguments and how their
decision, as it is currently reasoned, falls short,"
said Nancy Sapiro of the Northwest Women's Law Center,
a plaintiffs' attorney.
The high court's
5-4 decision, issued last month, held that state
lawmakers were justified in restricting marriage to unions
between a man and a woman. That decision overruled
decisions by two lower courts, which had found
the state's 1998 Defense of Marriage Act
were no federal legal issues raised in the case, an appeal
beyond the state supreme court is not an option, likely
making Tuesday's motion the last stand for advocates
for same-sex marriage in the state.
Lawyers for the
19 same-sex couples in the combined marriage case relied
on a pair of legal arguments in their motion asking the
court to reconsider. The court's finding that the
legislature had a "rational basis" for seeking to
regulate marriage was flawed, plaintiffs argued. "They
couldn't show any reason how it could hurt opposite-sex
couples if same-sex couples get married or why same-sex
couples' children wouldn't equally benefit if their
parents could get married," said Jon Davidson, a
lawyer with the gay rights group Lambda Legal.
The ruling also
overlooked an aspect of the state constitution's sex
discrimination protections, the plaintiffs argued, by not
recognizing that the law treats individuals
differently based on their gender--a man can
marry a woman, but a woman can't do the same, Davidson said.
writings, three majority justices in the case invited the
state legislature to take another look at the marriage
ban's effect on same-sex couples. Davidson
acknowledged that the statehouse remains an option for
same-sex marriage supporters but said the courts must be
available to protect a minority's rights. "We have a
court to protect the rights of minorities when the
legislature doesn't want to," he said. (AP)