WA Supreme Court Allows Same-Sex Marriage Benefits, Ignoring State DOMA

Olympia, WA – The Washington Supreme Court has denied a request by Pacific Justice Institute to review a lower courts decision allowing the mayor of Seattle to grant same-sex marriage benefits to City employees. Washington enacted a Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) which has been upheld by the state Supreme Court. However, in 2004 the mayor of Seattle issued an Executive Order defying state law and commanding all city departments to recognize same-sex marriages from other jurisdictionsnow including Californiafor purposes of employee benefits. Pacific Justice Institute filed suit, arguing that the Mayor did not have the authority to contradict state law. 

Last summer, PJI Staff Attorney Matthew McReynolds argued the case at the Washington Court of Appeal. In their questioning at oral argument, the appellate judges seemed to realize that the mayors actions were setting a precedent for other mayors to grant benefits for bigamous and incestuous marriages. However, the three judges on the panel sided with the mayor anyway. 

Brad Dacus, president of Pacific Justice Institute, had the following reaction, ”This decision by the highest court in Washington is just another example of the serious attack by judicial and political activists to undermine the voices of voters and the will of the people. It is critical that voters amend their state constitutions to ensure the traditional definition of marriage is not thwarted by a handful of government officials.” 

Pacific Justice Institute is being inundated with calls and e-mails from church leaders who are concerned about their ability to continue practicing and proclaiming long-standing church doctrine favoring traditional marriage. PJI encourages any church leader with these questions to contact our offices for advice.