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Same-sex marriage drama plays out

Thousands gathered in Olympia this week to voice their opinion on same-sex marriage, but the debate is just as heated in small towns and tight-knit communities across the state — and Port Orchard is no exception.

The Washington State Supreme Court heard arguments on Wednesday both in favor of and against upholding the 1998 Defense of Marriage Act passed by a majority of legislators over then-Gov. Gary Locke’s veto.

The act defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

However, those same-sex couples who protest the act say it is a violation of the state constitution, which states: “No law shall be passed granting to any citizen, class of citizens, or corporation other than municipal, privileges or immunities which upon the same terms shall not equally belong to all citizens, or corporations.”

According to Linda Henderson, president of the board of OUTKITSAP, her agency did sign a brief in support of same-sex marriages.

OUTKITSAP is a health and social welfare nonprofit organization serving the lesbian, gay, transgender and bisexual communities of Kitsap County.

“We live in a democracy, and a democracy is about all citizens negotiating rights and responsibilities,” Henderson said. “(The LGTB community) is a part of society and we stand up as citizens of this country and talk about what we have in common with other citizens.

“I take a long-term view,” Henderson said. “I think that all civil rights successes were not created overnight.”

Matthew Cleverley, central committee chair of the Kitsap County Republicans, has a differing perspective.

“It’s the Legislature’s area to legislate what constitutes marriage,” he said. “It shouldn’t be something that judges are deciding. The tradition of marriage is something that’s been grounded in our history, and the best environment for children is to be raised by a mother and a father in the home. We promote and believe that those values and those limits are better for the family.”

“Our participants reflect the general community of Kitsap County,” Henderson said of her group. “They moved here because they want the same things as anyone else, like a home and a family.”

It could be several months before a decision is made. If the Supreme Court rules against the act, counties in Washington state could be made to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

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