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Washington state House approves same-sex marriage bill

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

OLYMPIA, Wash. — The Washington state House of Representatives on Wednesday voted to approve a same-sex marriage bill, putting the state on the cusp of becoming the seventh in the nation to offer full marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples.

In a vote of 55-43, the state House approved the legislation, the last hurdle before the bill goes to Gov. Chris Gregoire for her signature — the Governor, who has five business days to sign it into law, has indicated she will do so.

Gregoire, a Democrat in her final year in office, set the stage for swift passage of the measure when she announced last month that she was backing the legislation, calling it “the right thing to do.”

House lawmakers debated the bill for more than two hours before calling for the vote.

“Marriage is the word our society uses to describe committed lifelong relationships,” said openly gay lawmaker Rep. Jamie Pedersen (D-Seattle), chair of the House Judiciary Committee, who helped lead efforts to usher the bill through the state Legislature.

“I would like for our four children … to grow up understanding that their daddy and papa have made the kind of lifelong commitment to each other,” Pedersen said. “Marriage is the word we use in our society to convey that idea.”

The bill includes a series of amendments added in the Senate that would ensure protections for religious bodies, churches, and institutions — including affiliated child adoption and fostering agencies — that would protect them from charges of bias or discrimination for refusing to sanctify, solemnise, or otherwise embrace same sex marriage.

The state Senate passed its version of the bill by a vote of 28-21 in a late evening session on Feb 1.

Regardless, opponents of same-sex marriage have already promised to attempt overturn the legislation via one of two ballot measures — a referendum for repeal, or an initiative to define marriage as exclusively between one man and one woman.

A referendum to repeal the marriage equality bill would need 120,577 signatures of registered voters by June 6 to secure a place on the November ballot — the latter would require 241,153 signatures gathered by July 6 to secure a position on the ballot.

Washington state first enacted its domestic partnership registry in 2007.

Since then, the rights of same-sex couples in Washington state have been expanded in a series of subsequent laws, culminating in 2009′s “everything but marriage law,” which was upheld by a public vote on Referendum 71 that fall.

Currently, same-sex marriage is legal in six states — Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, and Vermont — and the District of Columbia.

Nine states — California, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Washington — provide same-sex couples with access to the state level benefits and responsibilities of marriage, through either civil unions or domestic partnerships.

Same-sex couples, however, do not receive federal rights and benefits in any state where gay marriage is legal due to the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

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Filed under: Washington (State)

45 more reader comments:

  1. yayyy

    Posted on Wednesday, February 8, 2012 at 4:30pm
  2. <3

    Posted on Wednesday, February 8, 2012 at 4:30pm
  3. Yay!!<3

    Posted on Wednesday, February 8, 2012 at 4:30pm
  4. YAY :)

    Posted on Wednesday, February 8, 2012 at 4:30pm
  5. <3 yess!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 8, 2012 at 4:31pm
  6. Leading the way Washington!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 8, 2012 at 4:31pm
  7. :’D

    Posted on Wednesday, February 8, 2012 at 4:31pm
  8. YAY..WISH NEW JERSEY WOULD DO THE SAME

    Posted on Wednesday, February 8, 2012 at 4:31pm
  9. helllll to the yeah

    Posted on Wednesday, February 8, 2012 at 4:32pm
  10. it should be like that around all usa its not like ur telling the government to come in the fucking bedroom with u everyone deserves right to be married

    Posted on Wednesday, February 8, 2012 at 4:32pm
  11. you betta work washington

    Posted on Wednesday, February 8, 2012 at 4:32pm
  12. Oregon next?????

    Posted on Wednesday, February 8, 2012 at 4:33pm
  13. Next a signature and the on to the court system. sigh

    Posted on Wednesday, February 8, 2012 at 4:33pm
  14. yippie!!!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 8, 2012 at 4:33pm
  15. Do not forget; we are not fighting for special rights, only to preserve the rights we are already entitled.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 8, 2012 at 4:34pm
  16. I dont see how this is a problem to begin with….. If youre not gay, then dont marry a man or if ur not lesbian then dont marry a women. Its that simple everyone should be able to marry who they please

    Posted on Wednesday, February 8, 2012 at 4:34pm
  17. Yay!!!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 8, 2012 at 4:35pm
  18. Add me people.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 8, 2012 at 4:35pm
  19. Yay!!!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 8, 2012 at 4:35pm
  20. Yay for America!

    Australia, we suck.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 8, 2012 at 4:36pm
  21. It’s about time.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 8, 2012 at 4:38pm
  22. omg thats so amazing there now the 7th state in amaerica to legalize it we were number 6

    Posted on Wednesday, February 8, 2012 at 4:38pm
  23. how many more states b4 the legal gay marriage happen i kno illinois is gay marriage legal

    Posted on Wednesday, February 8, 2012 at 4:39pm
  24. I’m proud of my State.. :)

    Posted on Wednesday, February 8, 2012 at 4:39pm
  25. Congrats Washington! Come on Colorado!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 8, 2012 at 4:50pm
  26. yay :)

    Posted on Wednesday, February 8, 2012 at 4:51pm
  27. Yay! LOVE!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 8, 2012 at 4:53pm
  28. jumping up and down!!! YAY

    Posted on Wednesday, February 8, 2012 at 4:56pm
  29. This is why it should be a state issue…states pass the laws, feds don’t…

    Posted on Wednesday, February 8, 2012 at 5:00pm
  30. Its about time.. Now just pass it in every state!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 8, 2012 at 5:02pm
  31. We all know my state will be the last to ever do that…..come on texas grow up !!!!!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 8, 2012 at 5:02pm
  32. Congratulations to the citizens of the states of New York & Washington state for establishing same sex marriage rights to all on June 24, 2011 & February 8, 2012 respectfully !! Same-sex marriages are currently legal in 5 other states: Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont & as well as Washington, DC. It is also fully recognized in Argentina, Belgium, Canada, the Netherlands, Norway, South Africa, Spain, (large Catholic population here) & in Mexico City. If locust had invaded Canada, who has had same sex marriage for many years, we would have heard about it. America is moving FORWARD!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 8, 2012 at 5:05pm
  33. This is MY STATE!!!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 8, 2012 at 5:06pm
  34. Good news! Thanks!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 8, 2012 at 5:15pm
  35. Good for them all in Washington State! Congrats, Seattle! :-)

    Posted on Wednesday, February 8, 2012 at 5:15pm
  36. Yes!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 8, 2012 at 5:18pm
  37. :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D

    Posted on Wednesday, February 8, 2012 at 5:32pm
  38. Im emotional about this because i live in Jim Crow Georgia and my children and have aspirations of moving to New York or Washington for college so maybe i will get to marry the woman of my dreams one day! YAY!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 8, 2012 at 5:40pm
  39. Another step in the correct direction. Just say no to NOM!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 8, 2012 at 5:51pm
  40. Washingtonians, welcome to the group from your friends in Provincetown, Massachusetts! Congrats.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 8, 2012 at 6:14pm
  41. Good step in the right direction, congratulations from Québec, Canada!!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 8, 2012 at 6:17pm
  42. good news!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 8, 2012 at 6:19pm
  43. Cali just repealed prop 8! & this just makes me even happier! <3

    Posted on Wednesday, February 8, 2012 at 6:24pm
  44. Felicitations de Montréal, Québec. Congratulatins from a bi-national(Américan and Québécois) couple in Montréal. Vive l’égalité au mariage!!

    Posted on Thursday, February 9, 2012 at 3:03am
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