In a matter of hours, Washington’s Senate is set to take up Ed Murray’s bill, SB 6239, to make marriage equality the law of the land across the Evergreen State. At least twenty-five senators (including some Republicans) have already committed to vote in favor of the bill, so it is expected to pass.
However, if you are a Washingtonian, it is still a good idea to let your senator know that you support this important civil rights legislation.
Don’t know who your lawmakers are? Plug in your address and find out!
A companion bill is advancing in the House and is expected to pass there as well; the House also has the option of simply adopting SB 6239, which would send the legislation to Governor Chris Gregoire’s desk. Gregoire announced her support of marriage equality several weeks ago and is prepared to sign the bill.
The right wing has promised to force a public vote on marriage equality by launching a referendum campaign once the bill has been signed. 120,557 valid signatures are required to qualify a referendum for the 2012 ballot, which means opponents of marriage equality will minimally need to gather somewhere in the neighborhood of 170,000 signatures total (to offset invalid or duplicate signatures).
If a referendum qualifies for the ballot, the earliest that marriage equality could become the law of the land would be in December 2012, following the certification of the presidential election results. (A law subject to referendum does not go into effect; instead, it is placed on hold for the duration of the election).
Readers should keep in mind that referenda work differently than initiatives. If the right wing forces a referendum on marriage equality, those of us wanting to keep the law will need to vote to “approve” the referendum.
(Yes, we know… it’s confusing).
Permanent Defense will be working to track the right wing’s signature drive once a referendum campaign is launched. We’ll have more details on how you can help in the coming weeks.