It follows New York, Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and Washington D.C. New Jersey lawmakers should be voting on the measure next week and Maine might revisit it again in November. However in the same month as Maine, Minnesota might ban gay marriage, along with North Carolina in May.
Washington fought for equal civil rights for the LGBT community for over 30 years without success, except the last 4-5 years. Washington passed a domestic partnership law in 2007, after it has passed its own Defense of Marriage Act.
The house passed the bill 55-43. It should be signed into law next week and will be active in 90 days. However, if opponents gather enough signatures these plans will be put on hold as law requires the issues to go to the ballot box in November. The Huffington Post reported that 55 percent would support upholding the law.
Democratic Rep. Jamie Pedersen, a gay lawmaker from Seattle referred to Tuesday’s ruling by the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that found Prop 8 unconstitutional, “The court addressed the question of why marriage matters directly,” he said, and read a section from the ruling that stated “marriage is the name that society gives to the relationship that matters most between two adults.”
To read more about the news: Washington House Passes Gay Marriage Bill.
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Gregoire, 64, is in the last year of her second term. She has not always supported gay marriage equality, though now she states, “For all couples, a state marriage license is very important. It gives them the right to enter into a marriage contract in which their legal interests, and those of their children if any, are protected by well-established civil law,”
Gay couples already enjoy the same rights as heterosexual ones under a Washington government domestic partnership law which stays within parameters of federal law. While this is still a step up from states that provide no rights 0r protection to gay couples, it practices the notion of “separate but equal.”
Support for gay marriage is split in the state between more the more liberal coast (including Seattle) versus a more conservative inland. While Washington is mostly democratic, gay marriage is still a split issue as a result of conservative democrats. The domestic partnership law was barely approved the first time. In terms of revisiting gay marriage rights, Gregoire commented, “It is time, it’s the right thing to do.”
Critics of the proposal say that Gregoire should be focusing more on the state’s $1.5 billion budget shortfall. However, what no one has managed to consider is how much gay marriage approval would contribute to Washington’s wedding industry revenue.
More than 40 U.S. states have outlawed same-sex marriages, while six states explicitly allow it: New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire and Iowa. Gay marriage is also legal in the District of Columbia.
To help support gay marriage legislation in Washington State check out the group Washington United for Marriage
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To read more from the Chicago Tribune: Washington governor supports gay marriage law