Washington state has the votes to legalize gay marriage

Jan 23, 2012

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Gay marriage proponents urged their supporters not to become complacent following news the Legislature has enough votes to make Washington the seventh state to legalize same-sex marriage.

Democratic Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen says she'll support the measure, becoming the 25th vote needed to pass the bill out of the Senate.

The House already has enough support, and Gov. Chris Gregoire has endorsed the plan.

In a written statement issued at the end of a Senate committee hearing on the bill, Haugen said she took her time making up her mind to "to reconcile my religious beliefs with my beliefs as an American, as a legislator, and as a wife and mother who cannot deny to others the joys and benefits I enjoy."

"This is the right vote and it is the vote I will cast when this measure comes to the floor," she said.

Challenge ahead

Rep. Jamie Pedersen, a Seattle Democrat who is the sponsor of the House gay marriage bill, said at a news conference that the issue is not yet resolved. It's likely that opponents of gay marriage will oppose the measure on a statewide ballot.

Arguing that the measure goes against traditional marriage and the Bible, reports the Huffington Post, Ken Hutcherson, pastor of Antioch Bible Church said, "You are saying as a committee and a Legislature that you know better than God."

Several polls show a majority of people in Washington as well as the nation support same-sex marriage, according to the Seattle Times.

A poll conducted in October by University of Washington associate professor Matt Baretto, showed that 55 percent of voters in Washington would preserve same-sex marriage in a referendum if it appeared on the ballot.

Sponsor says

Democratic Sen. Ed Murray, a gay lawmaker from Seattle who has led the push for gay civil rights and domestic partnerships, testified before the Government Operations, Tribal Relations & Elections Committee with his longtime partner, Michael Shiosaki, The Huffington Post writes.

"I have waited 17 years to ask this body to consider marriage equality for gay and lesbian families," said Murray, who is sponsoring the Senate bill. "I realize the issue of marriage for our families is emotional and divisive. It touches what each of us holds most dear, our families."

If ultimately approved, Washington would join New York, Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and the District of Columbia in approving gay marriage.

On the Web: