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Everett couple want marriages open to all

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  • Cindy Worthen and Scott Pierce, members of the Evergreen Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Marysville, planned a commitment ceremony rather a weddi...

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    Cindy Worthen and Scott Pierce, members of the Evergreen Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Marysville, planned a commitment ceremony rather a wedding as a way to take a stand that they won´t marry until all adults in loving relationships have the legal right to marriage.

We sat down for coffee, but Cynthia Worthen and Scott Pierce were in a hurry. They had a wedding cake in the car.
They were all set for their ceremony Saturday evening at Evergreen Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Marysville.
About 80 guests were invited. Worthen, 48, was excited to wear her pretty gown. Music was chosen, programs were printed, and rings were ready to be exchanged. When we met Friday afternoon, the couple had everything but a marriage license.
That's because they aren't getting married.
In planning a commitment ceremony rather than a wedding, they are standing up for what they see as the right of all adults in loving relationships to marry, regardless of partners' gender. They say they'll boycott marriage until gay friends and loved ones can be joined in legal marriages, which they see as a civil right.
"We are taking a firm stance that until all loving couples can marry, we refuse to take part in a biased law," Worthen wrote in an e-mail message explaining their choice to be united in a commitment ceremony. She wrote of her hope that in sharing their story, they might open "hearts and minds in acceptance."
I've written about this issue several times, and will say again what I've said before. I don't believe religious institutions should ever have to compromise their tenets, or be forced to perform or accept marriages between same-sex partners or any partners. Some churches won't marry people who have been divorced.
Legal marriage has nothing to do with religion, that's what I think. And as the mother of a new bride, married a week ago in a beautiful ceremony in a Catholic chapel, I fail to see how anyone's marriage would be harmed by the right of others to wed.
Gov. Chris Gregoire is expected to sign three bills Monday expanding the rights of domestic partners in our state. But until partners can be married in the eyes of the federal government, we are not being fair. Americans are being treated as something less than full adult citizens.
Until a partner is afforded Social Security benefits when one dies, and until couples are allowed to file joint federal income tax returns, no state domestic partnership code is enough.
"I've thought about this a long time. I have many gay friends," Worthen said. One of those friends, she said, was not allowed to visit his partner of 20 years as the man was dying in a hospital.
"Domestic partnership falls short, and now some people want Referendum 71 to get that overturned," Worthen said.
Earlier this month, Larry Stickney, of Arlington, filed paperwork with the aim of gathering enough signatures to put Referendum 71 on a statewide ballot. The ballot measure seeks to overturn new domestic partnership rights involving jobs, work benefits and legal proceedings. More than 5,000 domestic partnerships are now registered in our state.
Pierce, 52, and Worthen have both been married before. They met last year when Worthen answered a personals "men seeking women" ad Pierce posted on Craigslist. It said, "Loves to laugh." Worthen said she wrote back, "Can you make me laugh?"
After chatting online for a month, the Everett pair met at a coffee shop in Snohomish. It didn't take long before they were serious about spending their lives together. What did they see in each other?
"Mostly it was our attraction to being compassionate with other people -- his kindness for other people," said Worthen, who's been in social work. Pierce, now a manager with a retail chain, spent seven years working at a Unity Church in Portland, Ore. They have older children, and Pierce has an adopted 12-year-old son.
"Initially this was my stand, but he feels strongly he'll support me in this," Worthen said.
Pierce said his views have evolved, particularly since learning that a friend he'd known for 22 years is gay. "I had no idea," he said.
Both say their choice is a sacrifice. "Maybe at some point down the road we'll get married," Worthen said.
That point, they say, is when all loving adult couples can be married.
Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460, muhlstein@heraldnet.com.
Story tags » EverettPeopleGay marriage

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