Republican lawmakers in Washington state are coming out in opposition to Gov. Chris Gregoire’s (D) proposal to expand marriage rights to gays and lesbians, “saying it will create an unnecessary distraction” during a short legislative session. But Senate Republican Leader Mike Hewitt went a step further yesterday, suggesting that the measure is problematic because it is spearheaded by openly gay state lawmakers, Sen. Ed Murray (D) and Rep. Jamie Pedersen (D):
Speaking during the annual Associated Press Legislative Preview, Senate Republican Leader Mike Hewitt said the gay marriage debate would particularly create problems because Democratic budget negotiator Ed Murray is “vested in this personally.” Murray is gay and a long-time proponent of expanding marriage to same-sex couples.
“We should leave the social agenda off from the Legislature this year,” Hewitt said. “The last thing we need to do is be down here in turmoil over social issues.”
Citing “moral” concerns, Hewitt has voted against pro-gay legislation in the past that would have extended many of the same rights and responsibilities to domestic partners as currently apply to married spouses. But as Gregoire argued in a speech announcing her support for pro-marriage legislation, “Religions can decide what they want to do, but the state cannot be in the business of discrimination.”