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R-74 affirms our changing norms

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Marriage is a right. The courts have ruled as much. But it is a right within the statutory limits set by the state. Those limitations can and do change with society’s shifting moral norms. Unions our ancestors forbid and considered immoral are now accepted, admired and encouraged and the prohibitions of the past seem odd or hurtful. Our standard of acceptance is constantly changing, and our tradition of marriage changes with it. It is time again to recognize that, and expand the right of marriage to include same-sex couples. Vote to accept Referendum 74, and affirm the rights of marriage our elected representatives granted. Fairness and our sense of justice should encourage us to do so. This is surely a major change, but not one forced on society. Our commonly held moral values are not being upended. We have not been ordered by a court to change against the majority will. Same-sex couples have advanced in public acceptance to a point considered improbable only a few years ago. This year they reached a point where the majority of our Legislature and our governor agreed they deserved the same rights as heterosexual couples, and inclusion in the same civic institutions the rest of us take for granted. There no longer was a “rational basis” for denying equality. What is normal now is different from norms past. The fears of society were for the majority dispelled.

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