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sheilas-letters
*Stable relationships advantageous for society*

Published in the Bellingham Herald on November 7th, 2000

A recent article (Bellingham Herald, Sept 26) stated that 20 percent of the Fortune 500 companies voluntarily offer domestic partnership benefits to same-sex couples.

The 14th Amendment of the Constitution protects the rights of responsible adults to marry. The states regulate marriage. However, in order for a state to burden a fundamental right, it must show a compelling state interest. Religious institutions have an interest in maintaining heterosexual marriages but they have no such interest in state recognition of domestic partnerships.

Hawaii and Vermont were unable to demonstrate a compelling state interest in denying my community legal recognition of our relationships. The courts compelled the legislatures in these states to draft legislation that would recognize domestic partnerships in these states. To date, Hawaii has not yet complied while Vermont recently passed such legislation.

Washington is currently denying citizens of our state their constitutional right to legal recognition of their relationships. Many Fortune 500 companies have recognized that it is in their best interest to extend health befefits to same-sex couples. It is in the best interests of our state to promote healthy and stable relationships with-in my community in the same manner that they now promote such relationships in your community.

Will our Legislature be compelled to recognize our relationships as Hawaii and Vermont have, or will they follow the example of the Fortune 500 companies and pass domestic partnership recognition voluntarily?

Sheila L Richardson

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