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.