A Washington State Trial Courts Ruling In Favor of Same-Sex Marriage Underscores Why We Need A Federal Marriage Amendment

Aug 4, 2004

Seattle, WA – Today, a state trial court ruled that the Washington’s Defense of Marriage Act (“DOMA”), which defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman and bans same-sex marriage, violates the state’s constitution.

In the case of Anderson v. King County, same-sex couples challenged the state of Washington’s DOMA that was passed in 1998, claiming that the law violated the state of Washington’s constitution. King County Superior Court Judge William Dowing, citing to the decisions by the state Supreme Courts in Massachusetts and Vermont, wrote: “The court concludes that the exclusion of same-sex partners from civil marriage and the privileges attendant thereto is not rationally related to any legitimate or compelling state interest and is certainly not narrowly tailored toward such an interest.” King County Executive Ron Sims, a defendant in the lawsuit who was supposed to defend the marriage laws, stated he was glad the homosexual couples sued him and rejoiced at today’s court ruling against the state DOMA.

In 1974, a Washington court of appeals in the case of Singer v. Hara rejected a similar claim by two homosexual men who sought to marry. In the Singer case, the court ruled that the Equal Rights Amendment in the state constitution did not apply to same-sex marriage. Although bound by this ruling, the trial court judge nevertheless ruled that the state DOMA is incompatible with the state’s constitution. Washington is one of 38 states that have passed DOMAs since 1996, which specifically state that same-sex marriage is prohibited.

Mathew D. Staver, President and General Counsel of Liberty Counsel, a leading public interest law firm defending traditional marriage, stated: “This ruling by a Washington trial court underscores why we need a Federal Marriage Amendment to protect marriage as the union of one man and one woman. To say that there is no legitimate state interest to protect traditional marriage as the union of one man and one woman is absolutely ridiculous. Marriage as the union of one man and one woman has been part of American history since its foundation, and is at the core of every civilized society. Traditional marriage is important to our society for many reasons, not the least of which is procreation and child rearing. If judges can’t understand such a simple concept, then one wonders how they can judge objectively anything at all.”

Liberty Counsel supports the passage of the Federal Marriage Amendment. Liberty Counsel is currently defending more than 30 of the approximately 40 cases challenging traditional marriage in the country. Liberty Counsel will file a brief in this case to defend traditional marriage once this case is appealed. The effect of the trial court ruling is stayed pending review by the Washington state Supreme Court.