‘The Moral High Ground’: Washington State Senate Votes to Legalize Same-Sex Marriage
In a major victory for marriage equality, the Washington state senate voted Wednesday to legalize same-sex marriage.
The Associated Press reports that Senate Bill 6239 was approved by a 28-21 vote, with four Republicans crossing party lines to approve the measure and three Democrats voting against it.
The bill now heads to the House, where it is expected to pass. From there, it’s on to Governor Chris Gregoire’s desk, and she supports the measure.
The crowded public galeries of the state senate in Olympia erupted in triumphant applause as the bill passed after nearly an hour and a half of debate. Sen. Ed Murray, the Democrat who sponsored the bill, acknowledged that gay marriage “is as contentious as any issue that this body has considered in its history.”
Taking a conciliatory stance, Murray said that his colleagues who voted against the bill “are not, nor should they be accused of bigotry.”
“Those of us who support this legislation are not, and we should not be accused of, undermining family life or religious freedom,” the gay Seattle lawmaker said.
“Marriage is how society says you are a family,” he added.
But Republican Senator Dan Swecker lamented that the measure changes the very definition of marriage and “will lead to silencing of those who believe in traditional marriage.”
Opponents of the bill vowed to fight on. They will have to wait until after the full Legislature votes to approve the measure and Gov. Gregoire signs it into law. They will then have to collect 120,577 signatures by June 6. If they cannot collect enough signatures, same-sex marriages would begin in June. If enough signatures are collected, the weddings would be postponed pending the outcome of November’s elections.
Same-sex marriage is currently legal in New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, Iowa, the District of Columbia and the Coquille and Squamish Native American tribes– the latter which is located in Washington state. Outside the United States, marriage equality has been achieved in Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Sweden and parts of Brazil and Mexico.
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