Washington state to vote on gay marriage

2012-02-01 11:02
Olympia - A proposal to legalise gay marriage in Washington state made it out of a final committee and faces its last major obstacle, a crucial vote on Wednesday in the state Senate, where it has narrow support.

The bill is expected to pass, though perhaps with the minimum votes required for approval, the bill's sponsor Senator Ed Murray said.

Same-sex marriage is legal in New York, Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and the District of Columbia.

The Senate Rules Committee voted on Tuesday to advance the measure for a vote by the full chamber with Lieutenant Governor Brad Owen, president of the Senate, saying that he has emphasised tolerance and diversity at state schools for decades, which would make it "hypocritical for me to not support this bill".

"For me, this is not a religious question," said Owen, a Democrat. "It's a legal question."

The committee advanced the bill on a 14-7 vote, with seven of the eight Republicans on the committee in opposition. Republican Senator Cheryl Pflug voted to advance it. She is one of two Republican senators who have said they will support the measure.

The Senate vote on Wednesday is expected to come in late afternoon or early evening.

Referendum battle

It is expected to pass in the Senate with at least 25 votes, the number needed for approval. Five senators, two Democrats and three Republicans, have not indicated how they will vote.

If passed by the Senate, the measure moves to the House, which has enough votes to pass the bill by a more comfortable margin. Also, Democratic Governor Chris Gregoire supports the measure and said she will sign it into law.

Opponents of same-sex marriage have already promised a referendum battle at the ballot if Washington becomes the seventh state to approve gay marriage.

Lawmakers in New Jersey and Maryland are expected to debate gay marriage this year, and Maine is likely to see a gay marriage proposal on the November ballot.

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 June 6.

Washington state has had a domestic partnership law since 2007 and an "everything but marriage" expansion of the domestic partnership law since 2009. Gay marriage bills were introduced in both the House and the Senate this year, and received their first public hearings this month.

Lawmakers are in the midst of a 60-day session that is scheduled to end on March 8. Senate Majority Leader Mike Hewitt, a Republican, argued that the marriage discussion has been a distraction from work on closing a projected budget deficit of about $1bn.

"This is a cooked deal," he said on Tuesday. "I'm ready to move on with the budget."

Read more on:    us  |  gay rights

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
1 comment
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
Traffic
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.