Washington State One Step Closer To Legalizing Gay Marriage
Washington is one step closer to becoming the seventh state to make same-sex marriage legal following the passage of a bill making it legal for gay couples to wed. The state Senate Wednesday night approved the bill allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry by a 28-21 vote. It now heads to the House where it is expected to pass, the Associated Press reported.
Reuters has more on the Senate debate:
An emotional written statement released shortly before the Senate convened on Wednesday from one of the bill's 11th-hour supporters, Democratic Senator Brian Hatfield, expressed the personal conflict he and other lawmakers felt in backing the measure, which he said contradicted his Christian beliefs.
"Regardless of how I choose to vote on the issue of marriage equality, I will alienate myself from friends and neighbors that I have known for years," he wrote.
"A vote in favor of marriage equality will enrage those who see it as a stone cast against God and the beliefs that I and thousands like me have been raised with. A vote against will label me as a bigot who is against extending the basic rights that I enjoy to all residents of our state," he added.
The bill's chief Senate sponsor, Democrat Ed Murray, called the 28 votes "a pleasant surprise."
Senator Murray, who is gay, explained to his colleagues prior to the vote that he was looking forward to marrying his partner of 20 years if same-sex marriage was legalized in the state. He said they could all expect an invite regardless of how they voted.
The measure now heads to the House where it is expected to pass, the Associated Press reported. Both legislative houses in the state of Washington are controlled by Democrats.
Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire, entering her final year in office, supports the measure and will sign it into law. She even made a video in support of same-sex marriage.
“As governor, I believe the state of Washington cannot be in the business of discrimination,” Gregoire said in the video. “As an American, a wife and mother, marriage equality is fair, just, and right. And it is time.”
However, if that happens, same-sex marriage opponents say they will challenge it at the ballot. In order for the referendum to appear on the November ballot, they would need to gather at least 120,577 signatures of registered voters by July 6.
Gay marriage is currently legal in Connecticut, Iowa, New Hampshire, New York, Massachusetts, Vermont, and Washington, D.C.
Watch video of state Sen. Murray's plea to pass the bill in the House: