28-21: Washington State Senate Passes Marriage Equality Bill

A collective cheer erupted from the crowd outside of the Washington state Capital Wednesday night as the vote tally on a bill that would legalize same-gender marriage in Washington were announced.  24 Democrats and four Republicans voted for the bill. 25 votes were needed for the legislation to pass.

The debate leading up to the moment was an emotional one.

Senator Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens, who served more than 20 years in the military, told his fellow Senators that the decision to support the bill wasn’t an easy one. Hobbs said he felt pressured not to support the bill. He said he was voting “yes” because  many of the  gay men and women he had served in the National Guard with were willing to take a bullet for him,”How can I look them in the eye and vote no?” Hobbs asked.

Sen. Kevin Ranker, D-San Juan Island, said that, as the son of a gay man himself, he understood what his vote of support would mean to those the bill would affect. “I grew up with a strong value system. I was taught that a family is not determined by the genders of persons involved but by the love and commitment they share. These are the values I carry throughout my life and that my wife and I pass on to our little girl,” said Ranker.

In a statement released to the Associated Press on Wednesday,  Sen. Brian Hatfield, D-Raymond, said the bill,”has been one of the most difficult issues he has ever been associated with. He believes his vote in either direction would alienate him from longtime friends. Hatfield says he came to his decision after months of thought and prayer, saying he cannot as a legislator vote “no” because it would be seen as an act of discrimination.”

Up until Wednesday afternoon, Hatfield, who also urged support for a voter referendum on the issue, had not publicly taken a position  on the bill.

The bill’s sponsor, Democratic Sen. Ed Murray, who is gay and has worked on equality issues for years in Washington, told the body,”Those of us who support this legislation are not, and we should not be accused of, undermining family life or religious freedom, Marriage is how society says you are a family.”

The measure now heads to the House, which is expected to approve it. Gov. Chris Gregoire, who watched Wednesday night’s vote from inside the Senate chamber, has said she will sign the legislation.

Once the bill becomes law, opponents of the measure have until June 6th, to turn in 120,577 signatures in order to get the measure on the ballot this fall. If they fail, same gender marriages could begin in Washington as early as June.

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One Response to 28-21: Washington State Senate Passes Marriage Equality Bill

  1. Pingback: Washington Marriage Equality Bill Set to Pass House this Week « The Idaho Agenda

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