In a 5-4 decision with six separate opinions, a splintered Washington Supreme Court narrowly ruled that excluding same-sex couples from marriage does not violate the Washington Constitution despite what the plurality opinion termed “the clear hardship faced by same sex couples evidenced in this lawsuit.”

The ruling comes as yet another blow to same-sex marriage proponents in the US, following similar recent defeats in other states.

In a strongly worded dissent, Justice Mary E. Fairhurst accused the plurality of “condon[ing] blatant discrimination against Washington’s gay and lesbian citizens” and of “shirking its responsibility to the people of this state to enforce the rule of law embodied in our constitution and to uphold the fundamental principles of justice.”

Justice Fairhurst wrote that Washington’s marriage ban violates the fundamental right to marry, discriminates based on sex, and lacks even a rational basis for the obvious and serious harms it imposes on same-sex couples and their families. Three other justices joined Justice Fairhurst’s dissent. Two of those justices also wrote their own dissents.

In response to the setbacks against equal marriage rights three gay rights groups have undertaken a $250,000 newspaper advertising campaign around the country, re-affirming their commitment to fighting for same-sex marriage.

The adverts show photographs of same-sex couple that have been in relationships of up to 53 years. The copy on the ads reads, “From coast to coast, millions of people and hundreds of organizations are working to protect gay and lesbian families by ending their exclusion from marriage. Along the way, there will be advances and setbacks, but we will not stop until every American family is treated fairly, with dignity and equality under the law.”

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