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January 13, 2012 Print

Washington Poised to Pass Same-Sex Marriage Bill

by Karla Dial

Less than 24 hours after a same-sex marriage bill was introduced in the Washington Legislature — one that could make the state the seventh nationwide to legalize gay marriage — the lobbying situation is already as intense as a game in sudden-death overtime.

The bill needs 25 votes from the 49 members of the state Senate to pass (or fail) this session. Earlier this week, an Associated Press tally found 22 legislators already support it, 18 oppose it, and nine are undeclared. A majority of state representatives and Gov. Christine Gregoire favor the bill, leaving the Senate as the only question mark.

As a result, lobbying efforts on both sides of the issue are reaching a fever pitch as the first public hearing on the bill, tentatively scheduled for Jan. 23, approaches.

“We need everyone to hear from their constituents on this issue,” said Joseph Backholm, executive director of the Family Policy Institute of Washington. “People who have feelings on marriage, whether it needs to be redefined or not, need to take a couple of minutes to reach out, whether it’s over the phone or electronically, to make their voices heard.”

Though same-sex marriage legislation has been introduced in the past, the lobbying efforts were nothing like this.

“There’s a sense that there’s a closing window of opportunity — that the Legislature is likely to be more conservative after the next election, and a decent chance that there will be a new governor who will not sign such a bill, so there is a strong effort to force this through the Legislature now,” Backholm said.

Read “Focus on the Family’s Position Statement on Same-Sex Marriage and Civil Unions.”