EDITORIAL: Why Burien Should Approve Referendum 71

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by Stephen Lamphear

On Tuesday (Sept. 29th), I saw my first “Reject 71” yard sign in Burien at First Ave South and SW 148th. In addition to the racial/cultural hate that runs just under the surface in most suburban communities, we have the religious/lifestyle haters coming out of the closet.

When I moved to this community in 1991, the big local news story was Nazi skinheads targeting Jews in the neighborhood I’d chosen. Oh, great — not only am I gay, but Jewish, too!

Burien incorporated in 1993 and we lost all the equal rights protections we’d had as part of unincorporated King County. When I was elected to the city council in 1997 (openly gay), I protested that I could be fired from a job in a town where I made the laws. I was not going to take that as fact.

So, I set a goal of equal rights and equality in my town. In 2001, Burien became the first suburban city to provide domestic partnership benefits to all partnered city employees (only str8s signed up). Then in 2004, Burien adopted a comprehensive anti-discrimination ordinance that is stronger than state law. No one can be discriminated against, for no reason — period.

After all that work to bring equal rights and fairness to my city, it angers me to see haters plant their flag in my town. Treat your neighbors like family, because they are — Approve R-71.

For those of you unfamiliar with this issue, here’s the language that will be used on the Nov. 3rd ballot:

The legislature passed Engrossed Second Substitute Senate Bill 5688 concerning rights and responsibilities of state-registered domestic partners and voters have filed a sufficient referendum petition on this bill.

This bill would expand the rights, responsibilities, and obligations accorded state-registered same-sex and senior domestic partners to be equivalent to those of married spouses, except that a domestic partnership is not a marriage.

Should this bill be:
[ ] Approved
[ ] Rejected

(Stephen Lamphear is a longtime Burien resident and former City Councilmember. Read more of his writing here.)

[EDITOR’S NOTE: We welcome all opinions, and publish pertinent ones at our discretion. As always, all Readers are encouraged to either email us their thoughts, or Comment below. What do YOU think of “Referendum 71”?]

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29 Responses to “EDITORIAL: Why Burien Should Approve Referendum 71”
  1. Lurleen says:

    Well said Stephen! To learn more about the campaign to approve Referendum 71 and how you can help (and we do need your help), click over to Approve71.org. Vote “approved” on Referendum 71 to preserve the domestic partnership law and protect ALL Washington families.

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  2. Kathi says:

    I [X] APPROVE! 😉

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  3. Terry says:

    How can anyone justify the denial of equal rights for all citizens? Either outlaw all marriage rights, responsibilities, and obligations or allow all partnerships the same rights, responsibilities, and obligations. Vote YES on 71!

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  4. Betsy says:

    Well said Stephen!! No one got to tell me who I could (or couldn’t) marry, and I strongly believe that everyone should have that right! Count on me for a yes vote!

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  5. Steven says:

    This should be approved. Vote Yes. Gay people pay taxes and take on all responsibilities that straight people do, and they deserve equal rights. No more no less.

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  6. Frumpledorf says:


    How can one deny rights?

    These rights never existed before in any point in recorded history.

    Homosexuals engage in a lifestyle that is their choice, and so they must live with the consequences of that decision.

    1. You can’t be married. Marriage is between a man and woman, and has been so since the beginning of time.

    2. You cannot have children that you cannot produce.

    3. You cannot adopt children. If you can’t do it the way nature intended, why would you take children from other married couples that want to adopt? A child raised in a married household (meaning man AND woman) does not have the same difficulties with understanding how normal sexual behavior works. That’s just a fact, of any real study on the subject.

    4. You can have civil unions. People already have that right under the law.

    These are special rights given to people who have chosen to live an alternative lifestyle. They knew what they would give up. Stop forcing your aberrant behaviours down society’s throats. You do nothing for your cause.

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    • Keith says:

      Frumpledorf, let me respond.

      Your ignorant view of homosexuality being a “choice” is probably never going to change. But let me ask you this…when did you choose to be heterosexual?

      1. You have a very limited view of marriage. If you want to look “historically” for what is a marriage, then you need to accept that women are property of the man.

      2. So if a heterosexual couple are physically unable to create a child, they can’t have one either?

      3. So you would rather have children be stuck in orphanages and foster care than with loving adults who want to care for them? And what about all the single parents out there? Those kids seem to grow up just fine. Just because a child is raised in a same sex environment does not mean that the kid is going to grow up confused. Please link to these so called “facts” and studies you are quoting.

      4. A civil union? You would be AMAZED at how many rights that heterosexual couples take for granted that are gained from a “marriage” that are then denied to homosexual couples. Lets not also forget that this amendment (which was forced onto the ballot under possibly illegal manners by ignorant people like you) also protects heterosexual civil unions. This amendment has NOTHING to do with marriage. Not one damn thing.

      These ARE NOT special rights. These are basic human rights that everyone should have. Stop forcing your ignorant, racist and homophobic views down societies throat.

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      • Lee Moyer says:

        Right on, Keith,

        The last paragraph shows the self contradictions of the bigots’ argument. “these are special rights given to people who… knew what they were giving up.” If it was true that gays chose to give up these rights, then they were rights everyone had, not special rights.

        I’ve never experienced gays “forcing their aberrant behavior down society’s throats”, they are only trying to get rights they deserve and the rest of us have. And please, let’s stop using that horrible pun.

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  7. Dale says:

    Stephen, what do you mean when you said;
    “No one can be discriminated against, for no reason — period.”

    Maybe you are redefining the words “discrimination,” “reason,” and “period?” Those used to be “good” words just like “gay” used to be a happy word before it was politicized.

    Actually, if it was left to this libertarian, the government would not be involved at all with the institution of marriage. Let everyone write their own contracts concerning marriage, education, health, paying their bills, and everything else.

    Then maybe we all could be gay again.

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    • Stephen Lamphear says:

      What I mean is exactly what I said — Burien’s anti-discrimination law says no one can be discriminated against. State law says it’s ok for an employer to discriminate if there are 8 or fewer employees. Burien’s laws says “no discrimination”. State law doesn’t address contracts. Burien’s law says “no discrimination”. State law doesn’t cover transgender people. Burien’s law says “no discrimination”.

      We make these laws because people discriminate. We make these laws because discrimination is wrong. Applaud Burien for standing up to the bigots!

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  8. What more can be said about (?):





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  9. calvin says:

    I thought this was OUR city,,when did it become Stephen’s City ?? Yes back in the 90’s we ALL did alot for City workers to get health care as well as other workers to get benies that most worked for and we ALL should feel Great about that…But 71 may be asking too much from a blue collar town…The Gay community has learned to pass laws almost like the NRA..very quitely, and without alot of BASH PARTIES AND BALLOONS…and then BAM BAM…it’s leagal to shoot your gun in the streets..and then people are saying What happened when did we vote on that??..Kinda like Stephen did in the 90’s…We’ve all seen the news cast of 800 couples going to the city that OK’s gay marriages and pays the $10 fee…Is that what we want in OUR city? Because thats what YOU’LL get..It’s not about Rights..and Stephen guys KNOW IT , but thats all they have so more people will jump on the Wagon..Rights..hummm..And when did someone that had a different view become a HATER?? If I put a sign out in my yard to turn down a Firemans levy does that mean I hate Fireman!! Of course not..This is OUR city not YOURS Stephen….All I’am saying is – just becareful what U VOTE for !!

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    • wanker says:


      The NRA and Gay people are 2 completely different things. I would not consider ones sexual preference a dangerous weapon that can kill people.

      Also, you are making it sound like if Ref 71 is passed everyone is going to flock to Burien for their Gay marraiges. You may want to re-study the referendum, it is STATE WIDE!. Burien has made some great strides in fixing up the city, but I doubt everyone is going to flock here when gay marraige passes (Which is not even what ref 71 is about). There are many other great destinations in the state.

      Also, as I just mentioned, this is NOT GAY MARRAIGE. It is simply an effort, which has already been approved by voters, to level the playing field, and give domestic partnerships equal rights. Please before you go spouting the FOX news agenda, make sure you have the facts.

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      • calvin says:

        My example using The NRA and the Gay community still fits …they both pass laws or put in referendums with hidden agendas …a llittle here ….a little there…Then – well we’ve got that Why not marriages…Why not adopting kids since we can do This and that… Gay Community has the biggest Divorce rate per capita of since records have been kept in Maine and S.F…Thats all I’am saying…Be careful what U vote for…Because little at a time then BAM …..And then people will be looking around saying When did we Vote for that?….

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        • wanker says:


          I would love to see where you get your numbers detailing the high gay divorce rate. Is that something you heard on Glenn Beck? We all know how accurate he is. Also, you mention the divorce rates in S.F, what about the rest of California where is was legal for a short time? How about Conneticut, Iowa, Mass, and Vermont? Also, do you realize that it has only been legal in Maine for less than 5 months? That is a great volume of data to sample.

          What problem do you have with two heterosexual people who are not married, but want the benefits that marraige provides? If you would read the article, it details that Sr. Domestic Partnerships are included in this referendum.

          Also, why are you advising me how to vote. No one needs to sneak anything by me, put gay marraige on the ballot today with neon lights and fire works, and I would vote to approve it. Give me the chance to ban a hand gun, BAM I will do that too!

          Calvin since you gave me advice, I will give you advice. Spend a little more time studying facts, to present a reasonable argument. I can tell that you are not full of hate like some others that bash gay marriage, so it just appears that you are ignorant.

          And for the record, I am a heterosexual happily married person without influence from the so called “Gay Agenda”

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          • Stephen Lamphear says:

            Thanks. Just remember: trying to argue with/convince a fool only adds one more fool to the mix. However, we can’t ignore the fools; we have to neutralize them.

            – S

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  10. Eric says:

    I have read this string with some interest. I am saddened that some would say that two people who love each other and are in a caring loving relationship should be denied the rights that I have with my wife. Simple things like being a parent to her children, if she has any; visiting her in the hospital because I am family; having a say in her medical care should she not be able to speak for herself; sharing our wealth and bills equally; the right to inherit should she die before me (that means none of her siblings can come and take away our photos, house or possessions while I am grieving); having a joint bank account; being able to be on her health insurance if her employer offered insurance, and countless other little things that come with marriage (or domestic partnership). Why should some people in a loving relationship have that sense of security while others do not?

    I know for some it is religious. Although I cannot think of too many gods that would punish those in love. After all in most religions, god is love. I don’t know of a single religion in which god is only heterosexual love. It is just love. And of course, there is nothing in any domestic partnership laws, or marriage laws for that matter, that require any church of any denomination to conduct any ceremony that the church does not want to perform.

    For others it seems they are afraid they will loose something if others have something near marriage. It seems some think that celebrating other people’s love makes their own marriage worth less. I can’t follow that line of thinking. I know my marriage is stronger when we celebrate others in love. The celebration of love in all of its spender seems to make my marriage stronger, not weaker.

    Some say this is their town, not Stephen’s, or that it a blue collar town (does that mean blue collar workers are against celebrating love?), but it is really everyone’s town, and everyone should have the same rights to celebrate being deeply in love with someone. That is a very special gift, one that not everyone is lucky enough to find in their lifetime, and one that makes everything else seem better.

    I side with Stephen in his desire to celebrate love and treat everyone in a loving relationship the same under our laws.

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  11. Lindsey says:

    When did Love become so bad? Seriously?

    Please answer this: What is so wrong with two adults loving each other and why do you care what rights two adults have?

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  12. Stephen Lamphear says:

    To every person who has stated that every person has and deserves the same civil and human rights and responsibilities — I thank you.

    R-71 is not arguing about civil marriage — something we already have in every state in America: you have to be licensed by the state to get married.

    R-71 affirms civil and human rights; something I worked hard to bring to this city. I no longer can be fired from a job in Burien because I’m gay.

    If there’s a ‘gay agenda’ out there somewhere, why is it only homophobes have a copy?

    I want my future partner to rightfully inherit my public pension. I cannot fathom how that hurts or costs anyone!

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  13. Alan Lee says:

    Marriage is between one man and one woman!! Gays have a right to live there lives but they do not have the right to redefine marriage for all of us. Children need both a father and a mother.

    REJECT 71 this nov 3 2009

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    • Eric says:

      While we’re talking about it, why aren’t two loving and caring mothers or two loving and caring fathers not as good for children as any mother and father? And since I am sure you are going to make this argument sooner or later, my wife and I do not have children, is our marriage alright by your definition, or do we have to lose all the legal benefits of being married along with all of the other loving couples that do not or cannot have children?

      What about single parents? Do you want to strip away their rights as parents too? After all by definition a single parent family does not have a father and mother that you say children need.

      Keep in mind here that Referendum 71 is not about marriage. Referendum 71 is about domestic partners. When passed, nothing in Referendum 71 will allow anyone to marry who cannot already marry. Referendum is about equal legal rights for loving couples and families not about “changing” your definition of marriage.

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    • Stephen Lamphear says:

      Well sir, you don’t even need to vote on this because its not about defining marriage for you. You can define that for yourself.

      The proposal on the ballot is about civil rights: the right to inherit, make medical decisions, pensions and other civil matters. It affects only registered domestic partners including seniors living together.

      If you are legally married (a condition controlled by the state) then you already have all these civil rights. What are you afraid of?

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  14. Dale says:

    How does anyone, including government licensing departments and courts, determine whether someone is heterosexual or homosexual? Can a male homo and a female homo be married to each other?

    If it all comes down to what is done in bed then sooner or later governments will want to install video cameras in everyone’s bedrooms.

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    • Stephen Lamphear says:

      Yep, gay men and women marry all the time — so they can get the civil rights currently grantly only to married couples.

      And, FYI, “homo” is a pejorative term best said with a smile on your face.

      Love your hat, gotta skoot.

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    • Stephen Lamphear says:

      Yep, gay men and women marry all the time — so they can get the civil rights currently grantly only to married couples.

      Gay men and women also frequently live together for various reasons. Unless at least one is a senior, they are not defined as domestic partners. So, they would not be covered by R-71.

      And, FYI, “homo” is a pejorative term (not at all PC) best said with a smile on your face.

      Love your hat, gotta skoot.

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  15. Stephen Lamphear says:

    As a matter of full disclosure — Jack Block’s political ad appears just below my editorial. Let it be clearly known that I DO NOT support Block’s return to city council in any way at any time.

    And here’s the scoop — when the city’s comprehensive anti-discrimination ordinance was up for approval in 2004 Jack offered his ‘yes’ vote to me in exchange for my ‘yes’ vote on something he wanted. I refused, with disgust — I don’t trade votes on civil or human rights. On this basis, Jack was denied endorsement by the 34th Democrats.

    The incumbant, Sue Blazak, has at least been consistently honest and ethical in her service. She may not be whiz-bang exciting, but I’m not sure we can afford that anyway.

    I choose Sue because she’s been honest and ethical.


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  16. Eric says:

    This life long Republican says it very well – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=beEh6jBM8CE

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  17. Rainycity says:

    It doesn`t really matter to me if a person is gay or not, that`s thier choice and I`m secure enough in my manhood to not feel threatened by it.
    I`m sure gay parents are as good if not better than a lot of heterosexual parents.
    All these folks wanting to support this should think about that this does NOT include a man and a woman who are not married.
    My complaint is about the fact that this ref doesn`t include them,
    I`m a straight married man so it really doesn`t involve me too much but what I wasn`t and my girlfriend (or myself) all the sudden comes down with a terminal illness or get in an accident and end up brain dead..
    Does she have the right to pull the plug even if we discussed the issue and it`s something we both agreed upon? Excuse my ignorance but does anybody care to answer that for me?
    Lindsey, you married?

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  18. victor says:

    That is why God gave them up to shameful lusts. Women have changed their natural way to an unnatural one. And men likewise have given up the natural relation with a woman and burned with lust for one another, men doing the shameful act with men and for their error getting punished in themselves as they must. As they refused to know God any longer, God gave them up so that their minds were degraded and they lived immorally.
    Romans 1:26-29 Reject R-71

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