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NATIONAL GAY AND LESBIAN TASK FORCE

MEDIA RELEASE

MEDIA CONTACT:
Task Force Communications Department
Adam Smith
323-857-8751
media@thetaskforce.org


http://www.TheTaskForce.org

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Wednesday, August 4, 2004

National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Hails Washington State Court Opinion


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Hails Washington State Court Opinion

MEDIA CONTACT:
Task Force Communications Department
Adam Smith
323-857-8751
media@thetaskforce.org


Court Strikes Down State Defense of Marriage Act as Unconstitutional

SEATTLE - In an historic decision, a Washington superior court ruled today that prohibiting same-sex couples from marrying violates the Washington state constitution.

The ruling strikes down as unconstitutional the state's Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as a union between one man and one woman. The law was enacted by state lawmakers in 1998 over the veto of then Governor Gary Locke. The court today held that the Washington State Constitution requires same-sex couples have access to marriage, and that the 1998 law violates that guarantee. Like the Massachusetts high court opinion last February, the Washington court held that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Washingtonians are constitutionally entitled to full marriage equality.

Lambda Legal and the Northwest Women's Law Center initiated the lawsuit four months ago on behalf of same-sex couples who were denied marriage licenses in King's County. Six state legislators, a wide variety of religious organizations and several civil rights groups filed friend-of-the-court briefs supporting the right of same-sex couples to marry in Washington. The case is the first of its kind in Washington since the Massachusetts high court ruled that same-sex couples are entitled to full marriage under the Massachusetts state constitution. The case is unlike the Massachusetts case, however, in that same-sex couples in Massachusetts did not face an explicit state statutory ban on same-sex marriage.

Attorneys for the state are expected to appeal ruling to the state Supreme Court which is expected to hear arguments on an expedited basis.

Statement of Matt Foreman, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Executive Director:

"Today's ruling reaffirms the important role that an independent judiciary plays in American democracy. It is a decision like this that underscores the purpose of courts and constitutions as the ultimate safeguard of minority rights against the tyranny of the majority. We know that this ruling will fan the flames of anti-gay rhetoric, revitalize claims of 'judicial activism' and spur ongoing campaigns to amend over a dozen state constitutions as well as the federal constitution to enshrine lesbian and gay people as second class citizens for generations to come. We salute the court's courage and integrity in carrying out its judicial duty and we vow to expose any backlash for the mean-spirited, un-American, election-year political ploy that it is.

As always, we applaud Lambda Legal, Northwest Women's Law Center and others working in Washington for their extraordinary work."
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For more information on the struggle for marriage equality, go to the Task Force Marriage information Resource Center at: http://www.TheTaskForce.org/marriagecenter

Join the Task Force for a Night to Create Change at: http://www.thetaskforce.org/events/parties.cfm


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Founded in 1973, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is the oldest national organization working to eliminate prejudice, violence and injustice against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people at the local, state and national level. The Task Force trains activists and leaders and organizes broad-based campaigns to defeat anti-LGBT referenda and advance pro-LGBT legislation. The Task Force Policy Institute, the community's premiere think tank, researches and reports on critical policy issues. As part of a broader social justice movement for freedom, justice and equality, the Task Force is creating a world that respects and
celebrates the diversity of human expression and identity where all people may fully participate in society.

 

 

 

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