Sen. Ed Murray submitted the following editorial on Martin Luther King Jr. Day:
Today we celebrate the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the midst of our struggle to achieve equality for lesbian and gay families. It's a special opportunity for those of us who want equality to reflect on the strength of Dr. King's nonviolent methods in achieving social change.
Following the teachings of his own Christian faith and inspired by the work of Mahatma Gandhi, King didn't simply abstain from physical violence. He and his allies found it in their hearts to love those who disagreed with them.
When hit – whether with clubs, fire hoses, or filthy words – they did more than refuse to hit back. They loved back.
That is the power we must harness in our struggle for marriage equality.
To begin with, it is important to distinguish between those on the extreme right and those who are honestly struggling with the issue of enabling committed lesbian and gay families to marry. It would be a profound mistake to confuse my colleagues who have said either they will vote no, or are unsure if they will vote yes, on the marriage equality bill, with hateful extremists.
My colleagues are good people. They treat others with respect and care. They are thinking through their position, not attacking others. And readers of The Stranger know better than anyone that a constructive debate doesn’t have to be boring. It just can’t be hateful.
And to be clear: some of those who opposed us over the years have attempted to denigrate us and threaten us. In committee hearings, on the streets and in public, they have often used language that is abhorrent. At times they have resorted to character assassination and even violence.
It hurts. It angers. Especially when it violates those closest to our hearts, our families and friends.
Anger is the natural reaction to pain. But anger will not change the hearts and minds of those struggling with their vote to support or oppose marriage equality for our families.
It is important to remember Dr. King often quoted Jesus’s call to “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you.”
He admitted it wasn’t easy. King was arrested more than twenty times, personally assaulted four times, and his family home was bombed. Despite being a living force for peace, Gandhi spent years of his life behind prison bars.
Yet those bars could not contain their hearts, their deepest convictions. They endured for their cause. And as King and Gandhi acted with love toward their enemies, I’m calling for all of us to act out of total, unquestioning respect for the opposition.
In the coming days, if they slander us, and we spit back at them, and they spout lies and we hurl insults – where will justice start? We have to break the cycle of spite, and make room for compassion. I’m not asking anyone to accept intolerance, to whisper their thoughts or bottle their passion, but to take a stand.
King said: “Somewhere somebody must have a little sense, and that’s the strong person. The strong person is the person who can cut off the chain of hate, the chain of evil. … Somebody must have religion enough and morality enough to cut it off and inject within the very structure of the universe that strong and powerful element of love.”
I would ask you in the weeks ahead to keep the examples of King and Gandhi in mind as you engage in discussions with legislators, neighbors, family and friends.
Some of our opponents have called for 10,000 people to show up for the Jan. 23 hearing on marriage equality. So let me make a suggestion to those of you who might not make it Olympia. At dusk on Jan. 22, step outside for five minutes and light a candle for our families and for all families in Washington state.
Join with your family on your front porch, or with neighbors on your block, and light a candle to show that you care most about treating one another with love. It’s a small gesture, but powerful. As King said, darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that.