Thursday, February 02, 2012

Washington State Senate Passes Marriage Equality Bill

Last night in a 28-21 vote, the Washington State Senate passed a bill that would give full marriage equality to same sex couples in that state. It is expected that the legislation will pass the House not later than next week and that Governor Christine Gregorie has promised to sign the bill when it arrives on her desk. Sadly, Democrat Brian Hatfield who voted for the bill is still supporting a referendum vote by voters at large. Would Mr. Hatfield support a referendum to determine the civil rights of blacks, those of Jewish descent, or Muslims? I think not and that fact speaks volumes about Hatfield's willingness to pander to religious extremists. It is far pass time that conservative versions of Christianity cease being given special rights and entwined into the laws in this country. Stated another way, religious based discrimination has no place in the civil laws - a concept lost on the Virginia GOP. Here are highlights from The Advocate:

The state of Washington looks like it's on its way to becoming the seventh state to offer marriage equality, with the senate passing a bill 28-21.

The bill is almost certain to pass the house this week or early next, and governor Christine Gregoire has promised to sign the legislation, meaning Washington will likely to become the first West Coast state with marriage equality

Though dozens applauded when the vote came down in Olympia, rightwing groups are already mobilizing a referendum effort to overturn it. Democrat Brian Hatfield, a crucial swing vote, endorsed same-sex marriage, but he also supported a November referendum that would allow voters to overturn the legislation. "I believe that ultimately this question should be decided by the voters of Washington," Hatfield said, according to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

Sen. Lisa Brown (D-Spokane) urged senators to not push for a voter referendum on the matter, saying it's wrong for the majority to vote on the rights of a minority. Sen. Dan Swecker (R-Rochester) came out adamantly against same-sex marriage, saying it would alter the definition of same-sex marriage. "It's an issue I am compelled to fight," said Swecker, one of many older Republican men to rail against marriage equality.

Sen. Debbie Regala (D-Tacoma) urged support for same-sex marriage; she was visibly emotional and near tears when she described how her interracial marriage was illegal at one point. Sen. Kevin Ranker (D-San Juan Island) was also emotional as he described how his gay father survived a lifetime of discrimination and still offered his son unconditional love and support. Cheryl Pflug, a Republican, urged passage of the bill. She was one of four Republicans to vote for marriage equality.

Kudos to the corporations that backed equality. I sincerely hope that the referendum effort of hate groups fails. Meanwhile, I continue to believe that fundamentalist religions of all faiths - and their ignorance embracing, bigoted followers - are among the principal evils in the world today.

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