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Several Kirkland Council members host event to support gay marriage law that foes put on hold
Gay marriage supporters, including several Kirkland City Council members, are hoping to get voters to approve a referendum on the November general ballot that would uphold a new law legalizing same-sex marriage in Washington state.
Opponents of gay marriage filed Referendum 74 in February that aims to overturn the law. Backers of the R-74 campaign needed to turn in 120,577 valid voter signatures by 5 p.m. Wednesday to qualify the proposed referendum for the ballot. However, opponents submitted more than 230,000 signatures Wednesday, according to the secretary of state’s office.
Voters will have the chance to either approve or reject the law that would allow same-sex couples to marry.
During a marriage equality event at Mayor Joan McBride’s Kirkland home on May 26, more than 100 gay marriage proponents raised nearly $11,000 for the Approve Referendum 74 campaign.
All council members and city staff who attended the event did so as individual citizens and no city business was involved, stressed McBride, who co-sponsored the event - along with Deputy Mayor Doreen Marchione, Council members Amy Walen and Penny Sweet and the city’s Intergovernmental Relations Manager Lorrie McKay – to raise awareness about the campaign.
“As I walked around the party, I heard stories from a broad range of people who care deeply about this,” said McBride. “Whether straight or gay, rich or poor, elected or not, we had a broad range of people here and all of them were supportive.”
Many elected officials as well as candidate hopefuls attended the event, including Sen. Steve Litzow (R-Mercer Island), Suzan DelBene, who is running for the 1st Congressional District; Redmond Councilman Hank Myers, who is running for Kirkland’s 48th Legislative District; and Cyrus Habib, who is challenging Myers for the 48th District seat. Kirkland Councilman Dave Asher was also present.
Anne Levinson of the group Washington United for Marriage also helped to bring awareness of marriage equality during the event.
McBride, who catered the event, said she supports marriage equality from a human rights perspective.
“I think it’s the right thing to do and I want to be on the right side of history,” said McBride. “It’s important to my family and many people I know. It’s truly about basic human rights because adults should be able to marry the person who they love.”
McBride noted that she may volunteer for the Approve Referendum 74 campaign if the opportunity arises. There is also a group of supporters that is forming in Kirkland, she said.
For Walen, the fight for marriage equality is personal and emotional, she said.
“I have quite a few people in my family who are gay, but I would like to think that even if I didn’t, it’s a common sense thing,” said Walen, who donated $500 during the event. “I’m a real believer in this. It’s personal, it’s logical and it’s fun to be at the forefront of it. I’m married – I’m lucky enough that no one questioned my right to get married.”
She added that marriage is a social institution, not a religious institution.
Kirkland resident Laura Ruderman, who is running for the 1st Congressional District, is a long-time supporter of marriage equality. She worked to raise money for the R-71 campaign several years ago that aimed to preserve domestic partner benefits.
“I don’t believe that people who are gay should be second-class citizens in our society,” said Ruderman, who attended the event. “Civil marriage provides more than a thousand benefits and rights that everybody should have access to.”
She also stressed the importance that voters understand R-74 on November’s ballot.
“Opponents wanted the referendum on the ballot, but if you support (same-sex marriage) legislation, then you should vote to approve the measure.”