Democrats in Washington state, like Democrats in New Jersey, appear to be elevating pushing same-sex marriage over bread-and-butter issues. The editors of the Washington Olympian say the state's budget crisis should be the top priority:
Will Washington become the seventh state in the nation to legalize same-sex marriage? Will lawmakers be so distracted by the contentious issue that they let it divert them from their primary purpose – balancing the state budget?
Long conflicted over the marriage issue, Gov. Chris Gregoire reversed course last week and threw her full support behind a bill to legalize same-sex marriage – legislation that is expected to breeze through the state House of Representatives, but struggle in the Senate.
... If lawmakers do muster the votes in the Senate to pass the same-sex marriage legislation, we suspect conservative and religious organizations will challenge it through the referendum process, sending it to the ballot for a public vote in November.
Our fear at this point is that the contentious marriage debate will distract lawmakers who have only 60-days to balance a state operating budget that’s $1.5 billion out of alignment. That must be the top priority.
Lawmakers know the depth of the financial problem and explored potential solutions in the December special session. It’s time for action. The longer the delay, the deeper the cuts to spending. If lawmakers get distracted on the marriage issue, and slip into yet another special session to balance the budget, it will be a failure of Democratic leaders in the House and Senate.