Tonight the Washington State Senate stood up for what is right and told all families in our state that they are equal and that the state cannot be in the business of discrimination. I believe that this decision should be made by our state Legislature, and I’m proud our elected leaders recognized that responsibility.
Tonight our families are better for this vote. Our kids have a brighter future for this bill. And our state is better for this bill. I encourage the House to approve this bill and get it to my desk for my signature. I look forward to the day when all Washington citizens have equal opportunity to marry the person they love.
Opponents of marriage equality have vowed to seek the 120,000-plus signatures necessary to force a statewide referendum on the measure.
Washington Senate Committee Advances Marriage Equality Bill |
The Washington state Senate Government Operations, Tribal Relations & Elections Committee has voted 4-3 to advance the proposed marriage equality bill. A date has not yet been scheduled for the full Senate vote, but both chambers have enough votes to pass the measure into law, and Gov. Christine Gregoire (D) is committed to signing it. Equality opponents have promised a referendum on the bill.
HUCHERSON: She might as well change her name to John Wilkes Booth because what she’s doing now is trying to put a bullet in the head of one of the greatest traditions that has ever existed and has built our society, and that is marriage between one man and one woman.
Hutcherson — who famously officiated at Rush Limbaugh’s wedding — has previously claimed that “the behavior of gays ought to be regulated by the government for health reasons,” and warned that God would unleash his judgment upon this nation unless it banned the promotion of homosexuality. “God hates soft men,” he proclaimed in 2008, and “God hates effeminate men.” Hutcherson went on to say, “If I was in a drugstore and some guy opened the door for me, I’d rip his arm off and beat him with the wet end.”
Momentum is building for marriage equality in Washington state, just days after Gov. Chris Gregoire (D) announced her evolution toward same-sex marriage and pledged to legalize the practice before the end of the legislative session. As Pam’s House Blend chronicles, Republicans and local governments are now echoing Gregoire’s call for equality:
– Two Republicans come out for marriage: Sen. Cheryl Pflug (R) joins state Sen. Steve Litzow (R) to become the second Republican to support same-sex marriage. “I do not feel diminished by having another human being experience the same freedom I am entitled to exercise. I would feel diminished by denying another human the ability to exercise those same rights and freedoms,” she said in a statement.
– Republican AG candidate supports marriage: Republican Attorney General candidate Reagan Dunn says he will back efforts to legalize same-sex marriage, joining Democratic challenger Bob Ferguson, who already supports the initiative.
– Largest county endorses marriage: All five Democrats and three of the four Republicans on the King County Council endorsed the marriage equality bill. King is the most populous county in Washington.
– Tacoma City Council to vote on marriage: Councilman Ryan Mello announced that he “will be introducing an amendment to our State legislative agenda to indicate Tacoma’s full support for marriage equality in Washington in this short session.”
A poll conducted by the University of Washington Center for Survey Research in October found that 55 percent of voters in Washington “would support a state gay marriage law if it’s approved by the Legislature.” A substantial percentage of people who prefer ‘domestic partnership’ also said they would vote yes to keep same sex marriage if passed by the legislature, including “54 percent of self-described Independents and 57 percent of self-described moderates.”
Washington Republican Senator Supports Marriage Equality Bill |
Following Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire’s (D) announcement last week that she’d be introducing marriage equality legislation, Republican state Sen. Steve Litzow also came out in support of the measure, making him the first Republican in the legislature to do so. Litzow has been a solid LGBT ally since his election in 2010, voting for safe schools and other measures that support same-sex families. He defended his endorsement of equality as being consistent with traditional Republican values: “When you think about gay marriage, it’s the right thing to do and it’s very consistent with the tenets of being a Republican — such as individual freedom and personal responsibility.”
A poll conducted by the University of Washington Center for Survey Research in October found that 55 percent of voters in Washington “would support a state gay marriage law if it’s approved by the Legislature.” Since Gov. Chris Gregoire (D) announced her support for marriage equality and promised to introduce legislation extending marriage rights to gays and lesbians, the organization is releasing additional details from the survey, which show even greater support for marriage.
The poll found that “a substantial percentage of people who prefer ‘domestic partnership’ say they would vote yes to keep same sex marriage if passed by the legislature. Even some who do not personally support marriage say they would be okay with the state legislature passing same sex marriage.” What’s more, “54 percent of self-described Independents and 57 percent of self-described moderates” would back a marriage equality law if it appeared as a referendum. Forty-six percent of self-identified conservatives also said that gay and lesbian relationships deserve some form of government recognition:
Supporter of marriage equality admit they are a few votes short in the Senate, but remain confident they will pass the measure in this legislative session. If they do, Washington will become the seventh state to legalize same-sex marriage.
Gov. Gregoire: Separate But Equal ‘Doesn’t Work In The ’60s, It Doesn’t Work Any Better Today’ |
Gov. Chris Gregoire (D-WA) spoke out about her recent support for marriage equality this morning on MSNBC, reiterating that while the state “doesn’t have to tell any religion who they marry, but at the same time the state cannot be in the business of discriminating.” She described her evolution towards supporting same-sex marriage as “a journey for me” and “a journey for my state,” adding, “I feel better about this now than I have in seven years.” Gregoire will introduce a bill extending marriage to gays and lesbians next week and hopes to pass the measure in this legislative session. Watch it:
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 votedagainst 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.”
Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire (D) has been lauded for her announcement yesterday supporting full marriage equality, but her opponents have fired off numerous red herrings and objections to her change of heart. Sen. Dan Swecker (R) led the spin, suggesting that Gregoire’s support will interfere with budget negotiations and it’s “bad timing and a bad idea“:
SWECKER: It will be a very divisive issue. She’s just kind of fanning the flames… It will be very much a part of the mix.
Attorney General Rob McKenna, the leading Republican vying to fill Gregoire’s position after her term is over, opposes same-sex marriage and thinks the right should be offered up to a popular vote:
“He does not support gay marriage as a matter of faith,” campaign spokesman Randy Pepples said. McKenna has not seen a draft of the bill Gregoire will back, but thinks if the law does change, it should go before the voters, not be handled solely by the Legislature.
Longtime gay rights opponent Ken Hutcherson, pastor of the Antioch Bible Church in Redmond, WA, declared his intent to fight equality “like it’s the last thing I can do,” fear mongering untold consequences:
HUTCHERSON: It’s going to infringe upon my freedom of religion. Every place this has become the law of the land, you are muzzled about what you can say about the issue of homosexuality… This is the year they think they have to do it in this state or they’re not going to get it. Just as hard as they’re fighting to get it, I’m going to fight for them not to get it because it’s going to have repercussions in this state and in the U.S. that you and I are going to regret over the years.
Not to be left out, the National Organization for Marriage’s Brian Brown — absurdly boasting his organization has 800,000 members — committed to lobbying against the effort:
BROWN: The people of this country believe that marriage is a union of a man and a woman. I expect the legislature in Washington state will stand up for this commitment and vote to protect marriage.
Larger anti-equality organizations like the Family Research Council and the American Family Association have yet to react to Gregoire’s announcement. Perhaps they simply do not wish to draw more attention to her impassioned conversion to equality proponent.
Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire (D) announced that she will be introducing legislation to legalize same-sex marriage during a press conference this morning, saying, “now it’s our time, it’s this generation’s call to end discrimination.” Linking the fight for marriage equality to racial justice, Greogire debunked common arguments against gay and lesbian unions and described domestic partnerships — which the state allows — as “discriminatory” and “separate but equal”:
GREGOIRE: Some say domestic partnerships are the same as marriage. That’s a version of the discriminatory, separate but equal argument of the past. For decades that argument was used to keep African Americans separate in schools, at their apartments, at drinking fountains. After all, the argument went, those separate places were just as good. But we, Americans knew, separate is not equal and finally the law caught up. [...]
We need to ask ourselves, how would it feel, how would it feel to be a child of a gay couple? How can we tell those children that their parents’ love is seen as unequal under Washington law and that their families are different? We must tell these children and their families that they’re every bit as equal and important as any other family in Washington state.
Gregoire described her own seven-year evolution on the issue as challenging and revealed that her children, “the children of friends,” and friends pushed her to support full marriage equality. “And let me just tell you, I feel so much better today than I have for the last seven years,” she added. Watch a compilation of her remarks:
Gregoire also pointed to Massachusetts’ experience with same-sex marriage, noting that none of the “doomsayers predictions” have come true. “In fact, the people of that sate are raising their children, coping in this economy, working to make a better world just like Washingtonians,” she said. “The economy of Massachusetts has benefited and continues to benefit from the change in the law.”
The Washington bill includes language that will allow religious institutions to “exercise their freedom of religion” and the state “will not tell them who to marry,” Greogire said. “Religions can decide what they want to do, but the state cannot be in the business of discrimination.”
Sen. Ed Murray (D), a supporter of the measure, said that proponents are “a few votes short in the Senate” but remain confident they will “find those votes in this session.” If Washington successfully legalizes same-sex marriage, it will become the seventh state in the nation with marriage equality.