Wednesday, February 08, 2012

WA Legislature Passes Marriage Equality Bill!

Wow! Another day of great news in the ongoing kulturkampf about marriage equality. 15 years after the Washington State legislature enacted a defense of marriage act over the veto of Democratic governor Gary Locke, the same body has passed a marriage equality legislature bill and sent it to Democratic governor Christine Gregoire for her enthusiastic signature.

Last week the State Senate passed the marriage equality bill SB 6239 by a bipartisan vote of 28-21. Earlier today, the State House of Representatives passed the bill by another bipartisan vote of 55 to 43.

The Advocate reports:
A spokeswoman for Gov. Christine Gregoire said Wednesday afternoon that she expects to sign the bill early next week, making Washington the seventh state plus the District of Columbia to legalize same-sex marriage. 
A round of amendments from Republicans looking to stop the bill all failed. One of the failed amendments had tried to require a referendum before same-sex marriage could be approved.  
Sen. Ed Murray, the gay man who has led much of the push for same-sex marriage in the state, said he and others are already gearing up for an expected referendum in November spurred by a petition drive. He told TVW that first a "decline to sign" drive would try to keep a repeal measure off the ballot.
Interestingly, as a result of yesterday's decision in Perry v Brown, the only chance that heterosexual supremacists may have to stop Washington from becoming the 7th state to allow same-sex couples to legally marry is through the referendum process. If they allow the marriage equality law to go into effect on June 7th and use an initiative to repeal it they will be repeating the state of facts which occurred in California in 2008 and that the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals yesterday ruled are legally impermissible in the 9th circuit (which includes Washington state).A referendum puts the law on hold until the voters decide whether they want to approve it or not. In November 2009, Maine voters rejected a similar marriage equality referendum by rejecting Question 1.

Regardless, Washington state voters have previously affirmed a same-sex relationship law by referendum in November 2009 (Referendum 71 in a non-presidential year) and will almost certainly do so again in 2012 where the President and a U.S. Senator is on the ballot. Bizarrely, it is somewhat likely that both Maine and Washington will have simultaneous ballot fights going on again in November 2012.

Congratulations to Washington!

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