by Andrew Edwards
Despite being committed and living with each other for more than 15 years, Linda Lambert, Whatcom Community College’s library director, and Amory Peck have been unable to legally marry in the state of Washington.
However, with the recent passage of Referendum 74, a bill that legalizes same-sex marriage in Washington state, this year is different.
“Everything is falling into place for us,” Lambert said.
Washington state granted domestic partnerships, a legal contract providing most of the legal benefits married couples receive, such as inheritance and hospital visitation rights, for same-sex couples on July 22, 2007.
“When we were able to get domestic partnerships we were among the first 10 couples on the steps of the capitol building,” said Lambert. Although she and her partner effectively live like any married couple and are treated as such by those close to them, “marriage is the one legal way of recognizing people that are together,” she said.
Despite being granted the ability to fulfill her dream of one day being able to marry her partner, Lambert said she was caught off guard when Referendum 74 was passed and even brought to tears.
“I was surprised by my own exhilaration when I was able to say out loud ‘we can get married,’” Lambert said.
Both Lambert and Peck belong to the Methodist faith, but, Lambert said, “the Methodist church still says at the national level that homosexuality is incompatible with the teachings of the church.”
The Garden Street United Methodist Church in Bellingham, to which Lambert and Peck belong, however, is what Lambert described as a “reconciling congregation,” a community which disagrees with this stance. To reach the decision to allow same-sex unions there were weeks of meetings and votes by church-goers, among them the Whatcom County auditor who handled the voting.
It was a “very objective and scientific” process, Lambert said.
As a result of their congregation’s decision, Lambert and Peck’s March 21 wedding will be the first same-sex marriage performed at the church. Lambert said she and her partner receive widespread support from her community and that “the pastor thought we should really extend a broad invitation.”
Lambert will be well prepared for the wedding, she said, since just six months before the passage of Referendum 74 Peck bought her a wedding dress “just in case.” While Lambert said she generally does not wear dresses, she will be happy to put one on for the occasion.
“It will be quite special,” Lambert said.
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