Seattle Begins Recognizing Same-sex Marriage

( [email protected] ) Mar 08, 2004 09:05 AM EST

SEATTLE – Seattle has decided to recognize the marriages of gay employees Sunday, March 07, which has caused local Christian organizations to rise in opposition.

According to Associated Press, Seattle's mayor, Mayor Greg Nickels, announced yesterday that the city will begin recognizing the marriages of gay employees who tie the knot elsewhere, although it will not conduct its own same-sex weddings because counties, not cities have the authority to issue marriage licenses in Washington.

The mayor would sign an executive order Monday giving same-sex spouses of city employees all the benefits of heterosexual spouses, including health insurance and send a proposal to the City Council so that the recognition of gay couples union could be extended to all gay couples in Seattle. Once it gets approved, it would require contractors doing business with the city to recognize gay marriages among their own employees.

Seattle has offered domestic partnership benefits to its employees since 1989, but the process requires workers to fill out extensive paperwork. Under the new order, married same-sex couples will be able to skip that process, officials said.

"The basic message is one of fairness, and that is that people who are willing to make a commitment to one another, who love one another, and who are willing to take on the responsibilities of marriage ought to be able to, regardless of their gender," Nickels told the Associated Press.

On the other hand, Rick Forcier, head of the state Christian Coalition, voiced his opinion in opposition, calling the decision of Nickels, “anarchy.”

"We have to have uniform laws," Forcier said. "People cannot be recognized as married in one jurisdiction and not in another. ... He's pretending to recognize counterfeit licenses that will have no value."

Washington is one of 38 states that define marriage as the union of a man and a woman.

So far all the marriage licenses that were issued in San Francisco, New York, and Portland are being challenged in the court and many pro-family groups are taking action to halt further performance of same-sex marriages. More than 3,600 gay couples were issued marriage licenses in San Francisco over the last three weeks – about 20 gay couples in New York and 800 gay couples in Portland, Oregon.