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January 27, 2012 Print

Washington State Senate Committee Passes Same-Sex Marriage Bill

by Karla Dial

On Thursday, the Washington state Senate Government Operations, Tribal Relations and Elections Committee approved a bill legalizing same-sex marriage on a 4-3 party-line vote, bringing the state nearly to the point of becoming the seventh nationwide to redefine marriage.

The bill is now one step away from a vote by the full Senate, which has yet to be scheduled. To pass there, it must receive 25 votes; 23 state senators signed the bill as cosponsors, and two others have pledged to support it, as has Gov. Christine Gregoire. According to news reports, the bill has more than enough support to pass the state House of Representatives.

Though state Sen. Don Benton proposed an amendment to the bill that would have sent it to voters for approval, the committee shot it down.

Meanwhile, the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) released a poll Thursday showing that 72 percent of voters statewide believe legislators should not be devoting their time to the issue, since Washington already has a civil unions law giving same-sex couples all the rights and benefits of marriage, and 71 percent said it’s a matter for the people to decide, not elected officials.

“If the Washington Legislature wants to change the definition of marriage —  which 57 percent of voters oppose — NOM calls on them to give this decision to voters,” said President Brian Brown. “Thirty-one other states have been able to vote on the definition of marriage, and Washington voters deserve the same opportunity.

“Having approved civil unions, voters do not support redefining marriage and clearly do not want legislators doing so.”

Learn more about the National Organization for Marriage.