Monday, January 23, 2012

Marriage Equality Testimony

I am heading to Olympia this morning - here is a draft of my testimony.  I hope I get selected to testify!  Wish me luck!

Good Morning Mr. Chair and members of the Committee. Thank you for this opportunity to share my thoughts on marriage equality in Washington State. For the record my name is Jim Vollendroff  - I was raised in Grays Harbor County - frankly not a very easy place for a gay kid to grow up.  I now reside in Auburn WA.   I am here today to ask for your support in making Washington State the 7th state along with the District of Columbia  to recognize that granting marriage rights to loving committed same sex couples is the right thing to do.   It is  good for families, business and the community. In addition same sex marriage is legal in 10 Countries in this world including our neighbors to the North in Canada.   To our South Mexico City also performs same-sex marriages, which are recognized in all 31 Mexican states.  It's time to become a part of  the neighborhood so to speak.

My partner Kent and I have been together for 14 years.  We have been registered domestic partners in this state since 2007 and the second   the law allows, we will be married.  I love my husband just as much as anyone of you and anyone else in this room loves their husband or wife.  I hurt when he hurts, I worry when he is late, I feel pride when he shines and I am committed to our life together.  Together with our three dogs we are a family - marriage helps build stable families.  All couples in loving and committed relationships should be given the opportunity to create stronger and more successful families through civil marriage.   The respect, protection, and commitment that marriage represents should be available to all loving couples in Washington.
I was raised Catholic, went to private school and was an altar boy.  For a short period of time I even went to the seminary.  The Catholic church and other religious organizations that condemn same sex unions and homosexuality in general are losing out on otherwise committed members of the congregation.   Regardless religious organizations will not have to perform same sex marriages.     Senate Bill 6239 is asking for civil marriage. If lesbian and gay marriages are legalized, churches still would not be required to perform them—just as the First Amendment protects.  Lesbian and gay couples who marry in civil ceremonies would be recognized by the state.
Times are changing and the tide is turning in the direction of recognizing and celebrating that loving committed relationships regardless of gender is good for communities.   I am reminded of a situation in which I was at a parade in Portland - sitting next to a young father and his daughter.  A gay couple walked by holding hands and the daughter who was probably 7-or 8 said to her Dad - "those men are holding hands".  I braced myself for what this young man might say to his child.  In one of the most loving and positive example of role modeling, this young father says to his child - "wouldn't the world be a boring place if we were all the same - it takes all kinds to make the world go around".  It is time to celebrate every day the diversity among us and to recognize that our diversity is the one true thing we all have in common.
In Washington State and the nation, the majority of citizens now support marriage equality.  Legalizing marriage won't erase the bias we face every day, but having the law be right is a significant step forward and an indication that as a community we are evolving.
Polls show more Americans now support the idea of same-sex marriage than oppose it.  This support is especially strong among young people so support will only grow.
 Now is the time for marriage equality in Washington State.  I ask you to support Senate Bill 6239.

1 comment:

  1. AWESOME! Jeff and I just are about to celebrate 14 years too! YES we do have to coordinate a movie night soon! That would be fun! :-)