At the close of Monday’s hearing on Washington State’s proposed same-sex marriage law, Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen (D-Camano Island) became the 25th Senator to pledge to vote for the bill. In a written statement, she said:
Democratic leaders say that the two bills, House Bill 2516 and Senate Bill 6239, now have sufficient votes to pass each chamber.
I happen to be the 25th [vote] because I insisted on taking this much time to hear from my constituents and to sort it out for myself, 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.
The bills would reverse language passed in 1998 that defined marriage as “a civil contract between a man and a woman and [that] explicitly states that marriage between persons other than a male and a female is prohibited (SB 6239 Bill Report, pdf).” In 2007, Washington legislators created domestic partnership (28–19 vote in the state Senate; 63–35, House).
Gov. Chris Gregoire has already announced her support. Washington would become the seventh state to legalize same-sex marriage, joining New York, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Iowa, Connecticut, Vermont and the District of Columbia.
If a marriage bill is passed during this legislative session, gay and lesbian couples will be able to get married starting in June unless opponents file a referendum to challenge it. Opponents have already said they will.
A referendum can’t be filed until after the bill is passed by the Legislature and signed into law by Gregoire. Opponents then must turn in 120,577 signatures by July 6.
The National Organization for Marriage, “the largest contributor to the Proposition 8 ballot qualification,” has pledged to fight the law should it pass.