I just watched live (on TV – Thanks to TVW) as the Washington State Senate discussed and then approved the Marriage Equality bill – 28 Yeas to 21 Nays. I was excited a week ago when enough Senators to pass the bill said that they would vote in favor, but seeing it actually happen was exciting on a whole new level.
Prior to the debate on the actual bill, there were several amendments that were discussed and voted on. Some of the amendments that passed clarified the protections of religious organizations. Two amendments that did not pass would have allowed non-religious organizations and businesses to discriminate, contrary to our state non-discrimination laws, and would have put the issue to the voters for approval.
There were some very moving words during the discussion of the bill. Democratic Senator Murray explained how marriage is important because it is how society says you are a family. Senator Hobbs mentioned that he would be drilling with fellow reserve soldiers this weekend, some of which are gay, and how could he look them in the eye if he did not vote yes on this bill. He said “I will never leave a fallen comrade behind.” Republican Senator Steve Litzow has some great matter-of-fact comments in favor of the bill including how the right to marry is part of the constitutional right to pursue happiness.
Now the bill moves on to the Washington State House of Representatives, where it is expected to pass, then on the Governor Gregoire to sign. I realize there is likely to be a referendum to put this up to a vote of the people, and we will have to endure misleading statements like what one Senator against the bill said tonight – that marriage equality would create a hostile environment for those folks that support traditional marriage. However, we will also have the opportunity to hear many more stories about how marriage equality will have a positive affect on Washington State families.
This is a huge step forward, and I am hoping the momentum continues until Washington State becomes a place where all families are valued.