On Monday, Washington's government took another step towards becoming the seventh state to legalize homosexual marriage. House Bill 2516, which was proposed by Governor Christine Gregoire, passed through the House Judiciary Committee yesterday with a 7-6 vote along party lines after a similar voice in the State Senate Committee last week.
It may seem that Democrats are pushing the bill through against Republican opposition, but when it reaches the floor of the 49-member Washington State Senate on Wednesday it will have the support of two republicans. They are part of the 25-senator majority that has already announced its support of the bill.
It's really consistent with the fundamental tenets of individual freedom and personal responsibility, said Republican State Senator an interview with The Advocate. It's all about people getting to live the life they want to live without the government getting involved. It's a core principle of the type of Republican I am.
Governor Gregoire, a Catholic Democrat, announced her support for marriage equality on January 4th.
It is time in Washington State for marriage equality, Gregoire said at a news conference. It is time, it's the right thing to do.
Although Washington allows for domestic partnerships between same-sex couples that was not equal enough for the Governor.
Some say domestic partnerships are the same as marriage, she said. That's a version of the discriminatory 'separate but equal' argument.
House Bill 2516 is still being protested by the state's religious community despite that fact that it explicitly protects religious freedom by providing an exemption for religious organizations regarding solemnizing a marriage and providing accommodations, goods, and services related. Seattle's Archbishop J. Peter Sartain called upon all churchgoers to voice their opposition to the bill to their legislators.
The bill also has corporate support from Nike, Google, Microsoft, Starbucks and other companies. The coffee super-chain that got its start in Seattle tweeted its support on January 25th, writing, We are proud to support Marriage Equality legislation in the Washington State Legislature.
If the bill becomes law same sex couples will be allowed to marry in the State of Washington, and any couples registered in domestic partnerships under the age of 62 will be merged into a marriage on June 30, 2014.
Because Washington is a referendum state the opposition will have the opportunity to put the issue on the November ballot after it passes, as long as they collect 120,557 valid signatures by June.