After hearing from residents, council re-votes to support marriage equality
SNOHOMISH - The City Council changed its vote in support of marriage equality after listening to several residents who came to a recent meeting to urge members to change their mind.
Mayor Karen Guzak said the comments made Sept. 4 were “passionate” in opposition to a previous City Council vote that the issue of marriage equality is outside the purview of the council.
Small business owner Janet Kusler spoke about the issue despite the fact that her speaking on something so important to her could potentially impact her business.
“The freedom to marry enhances economic competitiveness of communities, improves the lives of residents, and is the right thing to do,” Kusler said.
Mary Pat Connors said when she heard about the council’s vote she wondered about her place in the community. She said many same-sex couples and gay singles contribute to the community through serving on boards, attending meetings and donating time and money.
She said equality is a concern of the council.
For resident Mike Rosen, the issue is a moral one. He said he wants his council members to be the kind of people that say “I want to be able to tell my grandchildren that their grandchildren can live in a society that’s equal because of something I did today.”
The council should demand that the mayor sign the letter and should be embarrassed that her name wasn’t first on the list, Rosen said.
In July, Guzak sought the support of the council to sign onto a national initiative called Mayors for the Freedom to Marry.
The majority at the time didn’t think this was a “city” issue and voted against her signing onto the initiative. Only Councilman Derrick Burke voted in favor of the mayor signing the initiative.
Since then, most council members said they have had time to reflect and changed their mind, resulting in a 5-1 vote in favor of supporting the Freedom to Marry initiative. Councilman Dean Randall, citing religious reasons, remains the council’s lone opponent of marriage equality. (Councilman Tom Hamilton was absent.)
“It’s a significant quality of life issue for many of our residents,” Councilman Paul Kaftanski said about his change of heart.
“I think I was in error initially not supporting it and was more than happy to support the mayor,” Kaftanski said.
Mayors is a nonpartisan group of mayors who “believe that all people should be able to share in the love and commitment of marriage,” according to the group’s website. The group’s board is made up of the mayors of New York City, Boston, Houston, San Diego and Los Angeles.
In this state, the mayors of Seattle, Tacoma, Shoreline, Stanwood, Redmond, Vancouver, Des Moines, Ferndale, Issaquah, Olympia, Burien, and now Snohomish have signed the initiative.
Randall said during the July vote that as the president of his church, he had to concur with the church’s official stance.
“We believe that marriage is between one man and one woman,” Randall said, and added that the issue “is really out of our area of responsibility.”
Signing the Freedom to Marry initiative will not have a direct legislative impact, but Burke said it was still “an important thing to do.”
The state Legislature passed a bill legalizing same-sex marriage in its last session, but opponents got enough signatures to challenge the new law on the November ballot. Voters will decide in November whether to uphold the law passed by the Legislature. Washington may become one of four states this November to uphold same-sex marriage at the ballot box.
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