Justin Silves, a Washington resident and gay marriage backer, notes in a letter published in the Seattle Times that the state once banned drunkards and imbeciles from marrying.

Washington currently recognizes gay and lesbian couples with domestic partnerships which provide nearly all the protections of marriage.

But openly gay Washington State Senator Ed Murray and Representative Jamie Pedersen are expected to introduce a gay marriage bill in the upcoming legislative session.

Silves noted that the state's 1998 constitution reaffirms the state's “historical commitment to the institution of marriage as a union between a man and a woman as husband and wife.”

Those commitments differed slightly in the constitution's previous iteration. The 1973 version stated that “such applicant is not feebleminded, an imbecile, insane, a common drunkard, or afflicted with pulmonary tuberculosis in its advanced states: Provided, that in addition the affidavit of the male applicant for such marriage license shall show that such male is not afflicted with any contagious venereal disease.”

“At this point,” Silves wrote, “I must ask you, your readers and state government which 'historical commitment to the institution of marriage' is more detrimental to the state and general public?”