Washington state residents have reason to be crying tears of pride and joy this hour, as the Washington state senate has voted 28-21 in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage.
The house is expected to vote as early as Feb. 8, and is expected to easily pass the legislation.
Our governor, Christine Gregoire, blessings on her house, has said she will sign it.
Folks, we are on the brink of becoming the seventh state to grant the right to marry to all.
Provided the bill passes, as it now seems all but certain it will, same-gender couples will be able to wed as soon as June. An amendment to limit the right to those who can show they have lived in Washington for six months or more was rejected. All will be welcome to wed in Washington!
Opponents of the bill have said they will try to raise 120,577 signatures by June 6. If they are able to do that, they can block marriage rights until a vote in November. But 55 percent of respondents in a recent University of Washington survey said they would not vote for repeal, should the legislature pass marriage equality into law. It's looking good for our team.
Happy dancing. I will throw rice for some friends this year, God willing.
Update: The vote came down mostly along partisan lines, but four Republicans supported the bill, which was sponsored by Democratic senator Ed Murray.
An amendment that would have sent the matter to a vote was rejected, but several amendments allowing religious institutions to opt not to offer their facilities for same sex wedding use were included.
The passage of this bill in the senate wasn't assured until about a week ago, when Senator Mary Margaret Haugen, who has been a strong champion of transportation improvements in our region and whom I've met several times, announced that she would be the 25th and deciding vote.
Interesting things about the bill: those of the 9,300 or so couples now in domestic partnerships will have two years to dissolve the partnership or they will automatically become legally wed. The only exception is for those 62 and older, who may remain in domestic partnerships, as will those in heterosexual domestic partnership, which some seniors prefer to marriage in that it allows them to avoid certain financial repercussions of marriage.
Domestic partnership was adopted here in 2007, and an "everything but marriage" law passed in 2009.
I interviewed a representative last week who called this a "distraction" from the budget crisis. I urge that fellow to pass this when it come before him in the house next week. Then he will be distracted no more.