NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Wednesday, February 8th, 2012

Washington State House sends marriage equality legislation to Governor Gregoire

Joy­ous news to report this after­noon: After many hours of debate, our state House has fol­lowed in the foot­steps of the Sen­ate and approved a bill mak­ing mar­riage equal­i­ty the law of the land of Wash­ing­ton.

The vote was fifty five to forty-three.

SB 6239, prime spon­sored by Sen­a­tor Ed Mur­ray, now heads to the desk of Gov­er­nor Chris Gre­goire, who has promised to sign it.

Two Repub­li­cans joined fifty-three Democ­rats in vot­ing yes; sev­er­al Democ­rats joined the remain­der of the Repub­li­can cau­cus in vot­ing no.

The roll call was as fol­lows:

Vot­ing Yea:  Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Ander­son, Apple­ton, Bil­lig, Blake, Car­lyle, Clib­born, Cody, Darneille, Dick­er­son, Dun­shee, Eddy, Finn, Fitzgib­bon, Good­man, Green, Haigh, Hansen, Hasegawa, Hud­gins, Hunt, Hunter, Jink­ins, Kagi, Kel­ley, Ken­ney, Laden­burg, Liias, Lyt­ton, Maxwell, McCoy, Moeller, Mor­ris, Moscoso, Orms­by, Orwall, Ped­er­sen, Pet­ti­grew, Pol­let, Prob­st, Reyk­dal, Roberts, Ryu, San­tos, Seaquist, Sells, Springer, Stan­ford, Sul­li­van, Takko, Tharinger, Upthe­grove, Van De Wege, Walsh, Wylie, and Mr. Speak­er [Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Chopp]

Vot­ing Nay:  Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Ahern, Alexan­der, Angel, Arm­strong, Asay, Bai­ley, Buys, Chan­dler, Con­dot­ta, Crouse, Dahlquist, Dammeier, DeBolt, Fagan, Haler, Har­grove, Har­ris, Hin­kle, Hope, Hurst, John­son, Kir­by, Klip­pert, Kretz, Kris­tiansen, McCune, Milos­cia, Nealey, Orcutt, Over­street, Park­er, Pear­son, Rivers, Rodne, Ross, Schmick, Shea, Short, Smith, Tay­lor, War­nick, Wilcox, and Zeiger

The Repub­li­cans who vot­ed aye were Glenn Ander­son and Mau­reen Walsh. Democ­rats vot­ing nay were Steve Kir­by, Mark Milos­cia, and Chris Hurst.

“We thank Speak­er Chopp and Rep. Ped­er­sen for their lead­er­ship, as well as the bipar­ti­san coali­tion of rep­re­sen­ta­tives who vot­ed today to rec­og­nize the love, hon­or and com­mit­ment of all Wash­ing­ton fam­i­lies,” said Lacey All, Chair of Wash­ing­ton Unit­ed for Mar­riage, the coali­tion that has been fight­ing for mar­riage equal­i­ty.

“Many of us have known for a long time that rec­og­niz­ing the diver­si­ty and inclu­sion our state has to offer is key to our suc­cess. The enact­ment of this bill will prove to the world that Wash­ing­ton is a great place to live, work and raise a fam­i­ly. We do not doubt our oppo­nents will be suc­cess­ful in plac­ing a ref­er­en­dum on the bal­lot, and we will con­tin­ue to build upon our momen­tum and win in Novem­ber.”

Sen­a­tor Ed Mur­ray issued a state­ment thank­ing the House for pass­ing his bill.

“It took the courage of many leg­is­la­tors who strug­gled with a dif­fi­cult issue and decid­ed to do what they believe is best for all Wash­ing­to­ni­ans to make today’s his­toric vote pos­si­ble,” Mur­ray said.

“It will bring to an end what has been, for me, a sev­en­teen-year-strug­gle in the Leg­is­la­ture to rec­og­nize the civ­il rights of gay and les­bian cou­ples in our state.

“In truth, it was the fam­i­lies who shared their sto­ries of love and com­mit­ment who spoke to the hearts of leg­is­la­tors and changed minds.”

“We will need more of that met­tle – the courage to share deeply per­son­al sto­ries for the cause of jus­tice – if we are to win the hearts and minds of the peo­ple of Wash­ing­ton. I expect a ref­er­en­dum on this issue, and I remain con­fi­dent that, ulti­mate­ly, mar­riage equal­i­ty will be Washington’s law.”

Gov­er­nor Chris Gre­goire agreed.

“This is tru­ly a his­toric day in Wash­ing­ton state, and one where I couldn’t be more proud,” she said in state­ment. “With today’s vote, we tell the nation that Wash­ing­ton state will no longer deny our cit­i­zens the oppor­tu­ni­ty to mar­ry the per­son they love. We tell every child of same-sex cou­ples that their fam­i­ly is every bit as equal and impor­tant as all oth­er fam­i­lies in our state.”

“And we take a major step toward com­plet­ing a long and impor­tant jour­ney to end dis­crim­i­na­tion based on sex­u­al ori­en­ta­tion. I com­mend our House mem­bers and thank Rep. Jamie Ped­er­sen for spon­sor­ing this bill. Our leg­is­la­tors showed courage, respect, and professionalism.I look for­ward to sign­ing this piece of leg­is­la­tion, and putting into law an end to an era of dis­crim­i­na­tion.”

All of us at NPI join our many coali­tion part­ners in thank­ing the fifty-five mem­bers of the House and the twen­ty-eight mem­bers of the Sen­ate who vot­ed in favor of SB 6239 for mak­ing this great civ­il rights advance a real­i­ty.

We still have a great deal of work to do. Oppo­nents of mar­riage equal­i­ty have made it plain­ly clear they intend to launch a ref­er­en­dum cam­paign to force a pub­lic vote on this leg­is­la­tion. If they are suc­cess­ful, this bill will be put before the peo­ple of Wash­ing­ton State to approve or reject. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, our Con­sti­tu­tion does not place cer­tain sub­jects (like peo­ple’s civ­il rights) off-lim­its to the ini­tia­tive and ref­er­en­dum process, so we can’t pre­vent our state’s fun­da­men­tal­ist right wing from turn­ing this into a bal­lot ques­tion. But we can con­vince our fel­low cit­i­zens that mar­riage equal­i­ty is all about fair­ness, pro­tec­tion, and love.

Gov­ern­ment should not be in the busi­ness of dis­crim­i­nat­ing against cou­ples who want the rights and respon­si­bil­i­ties of mar­riage based on sex­u­al ori­en­ta­tion. Allow­ing LGBT cou­ples to wed is an expan­sion of free­dom, not a con­trac­tion of free­dom. That’s the mes­sage we need to send in the weeks and months ahead.

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