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Topics In the News
 
Washington House Passes Marriage Equality
Posted by: Claude J. Summers on 02/09/12
Last updated on: 02/16/12
 
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Republican Representative Maureen Walsh gives a moving speech supporting same-sex marriage.

Following two hours of debate on February 8, 2012, Washington state's House of Representatives voted 55 to 43 in favor of marriage equality. The bill, which was earlier passed by the state Senate, now goes to Governor Chris Gregoire, who will sign it into law within 5 days, though it is likely to be subjected to a referendum in November.

Openly gay Rep. Jamie Pedersen began the debate by saying that he and his partner are grateful for the protections provided by their domestic partnership, but that it is a "pale and inadequate substitute" for marriage.

Pedersen added, "I would like for our four children to grow up understanding that their daddy and their poppa have made that kind of a lifelong commitment to each other. Marriage is the word that we use in our society to convey that idea."

Two legislators referenced their gay children during the debate.

Rep. Phyllis Gutierrez Kenney said she has two sons who are gay. "Both have been subjected to harassment and rejection. This hurt cannot be erased, and some will last with them forever," she said.

Rep. Maureen Walsh, one of only two Republicans to support the bill, told a story about how her daughter stood up for a kid who was being bullied in school because it was the right thing to do. As an adult, her daughter came out of the closet.

"Nothing is different. She's still a fabulous human being and she's met a person she loves very much, and someday by God I want to throw a wedding for that kid," Walsh continued. "I hope that's exactly what I can do. I hope she will not feel like a second-class citizen. Domestic partnership sounds like a Merry Maids franchise to me."

Governor Gregoire and openly gay Senator Ed Murray, who managed the bill in the legislature, watched the debate from the House gallery.

"I'm happy," Murray said after the vote. "It's a great day for families across the state. It's a great day for my family."

After the vote, Governor Gregoire issued this statement: "This is truly a historic day in Washington state, and one where I couldn't be more proud. With today's vote, we tell the nation that Washington state will no longer deny our citizens the opportunity to marry the person they love. We tell every child of same-sex couples that their family is every bit as equal and important as all other families in our state. And we take a major step toward completing a long and important journey to end discrimination based on sexual orientation.

"I commend our House members and thank Rep. Jamie Pedersen for sponsoring this bill. Our legislators showed courage, respect, and professionalism. I look forward to signing this piece of legislation, and putting into law an end to an era of discrimination."

Republican Rep. Walsh gave the most moving speech of the evening.

 
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