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social sciences

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Murray, Edward B. ("Ed")  (b. 1955)  
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Murray became the manager of Anderson's successful campaign for re-election to the Washington House of Representatives in 1988.

Murray continued a close political relationship with Anderson, but he took a job with Seattle City Council member Martha Choe. In that capacity, Murray became something of a "policy wonk," particularly with regard to transportation issues. "If I learned retail politics from Cal," he stated to Feit, "I learned public policy and how to do budgets from Martha Choe."

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After several terms in the Washington House, Anderson won election to the state Senate in 1994. The following year, knowing that he was terminally ill with AIDS, he urged Murray to run to succeed him when the time came. Shortly after Anderson's death, therefore, Murray announced his candidacy for the vacant seat. Murray was defeated by state Representative Pat Thibaudeau, another Democrat, but was then appointed to the seat that she had previously held in the state House.

Murray stated to Galloway that in his first days in the legislature there were some awkward moments, such as when a few of his Republican colleagues refused to shake hands with him, but, he said, "the vast majority of people were pretty good."

A strong proponent of glbtq rights from the start, Murray has seen attitudes change for the better, albeit slowly. In 1998 he told Lynda V. Mapes of the Seattle Times, "I'm the only openly gay person a lot of them [i.e., his colleagues] have ever met. They ask me questions. . . . There's a level of uncomfortableness with some of the conservative Republicans. It feels like high school."

In the Washington House, Murray became chair first of the Capital Budget Committee and then of the Transportation Committee. In the latter capacity he worked to improve auto emissions standards and was also a leader in successful efforts in 2003 and 2005 to raise the gasoline tax to secure funds for needed maintenance and upgrades to the state's transportation infrastructure.

In order to get the road projects built, Murray had to hone his political bridge-building skills, not considered one of his strengths at the beginning of his career. By the early 2000s, however, he was bringing together coalitions of business, labor, and environmentalist groups to move legislation forward.

Murray announced his plan to run for the Washington Senate in 2006, challenging the incumbent Thibaudeau, who eventually abandoned the race. Murray prevailed in the general election and won by comfortable margins in his bids for re-election.

In the Senate Murray chaired the Ways and Means Committee, where he fought hard for adequate funding for education.

Throughout his legislative career Murray worked for glbtq rights. Long recognized as a strong advocate, he was nevertheless sometimes criticized for not pushing hard enough. In 1998, after the legislature outlawed marriage equality, he angered some activists by advising against trying to put the question on the ballot.

Murray favored a step-by-step approach. By 2006 he had successfully shepherded an antidiscrimination bill through the legislature and then moved on to sponsor bills to create domestic partnerships in Washington. Again he had detractors who wanted to push immediately for marriage equality. As he recalled it to Feit, "I believed strongly that we had to walk our way toward this, both to make legislators comfortable and to make people in the public comfortable."

In 2007, in the aftermath of a ruling by a bitterly divided Washington state supreme court that gay and lesbian couples had no constitutional right to marriage, the Washington legislature adopted a relatively weak domestic partnership law. It provided hospital visitation rights, the ability to authorize autopsies and organ donations, and inheritance rights when there is no will.

In 2008, again with the prodding of Murray, the legislature expanded the law to give additional rights to domestic partners. The law was further expanded in 2009 to confer on same-sex partners all the rights and responsibilities that Washington state offers to married couples.

Soon after the latter law was signed by Governor Chris Gregoire, however, a conservative organization announced that it would begin the process of gathering signatures to qualify a proposal repealing the new law. In September 2009, the Washington Secretary of State certified the signatures, despite irregularities in collecting and submitting them. The law thus was presented to the voters in November 2009 for approval or rejection.

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