Wash. state court upholds ban on gay marriage
Updated: 19 minutes ago
OLYMPIA, Wash. - The Washington Supreme Court ruled against gay marriage Wednesday, upholding the state’s 1998 Defense of Marriage Act.
The 38 plaintiffs in the case — 19 gay and lesbian couples seeking to marry — challenged the constitutionality of the 1998 law, which limits marriage to heterosexual couples.
Judges in King and Thurston counties overturned the law in 2004, citing the state constitution’s “privileges and immunities” section. The state appealed, and the cases were consolidated for state Supreme Court review.
In their arguments before the Supreme Court, the plaintiffs’ attorneys said the gay marriage ban violates a constitutional prohibition against granting privileges to one group of citizens but not another. They also argued the ban violated the state’s Equal Rights Amendment.
Attorneys defending the marriage law said the state has a legitimate interest in regulating relationships that produce children.
Setback for proponents
The decision is just the latest in a series of significant court rulings on the issue in recent weeks, most falling in favor of opponents.
Courts reinstated voter-approved bans on gay marriage in Nebraska and Georgia earlier this month. Tennessee’s Supreme Court ruled that voters there should have a say on allowing gay marriage.
Massachusetts’ high court — the same court that issued the historic ruling that has allowed more than 8,000 same-sex couples since 2004 to marry in that state — ruled a proposed state constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage could go on the ballot if approved by the Legislature.
In Connecticut, a judge found gay and lesbian couples had not been harmed by that state’s decision to grant them civil unions but not marriage. Vermont also allows civil unions that confer the same legal rights as heterosexual married couples.
In all, 45 states have passed laws banning gay marriage or limiting marriage to between a man and a woman. Congress recently rebuffed a move to get a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.
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