OLYMPIA, Wash. — On a fast track since receiving the strong endorsement Jan. 4 of Gov. Christine Gregoire, same-sex marriage in Washington is on the verge of approval by the state Legislature at press time for this newspaper.
But opponents of gay marriage — primarily Christian and conservative groups — are vowing to see the issue come to a public vote one way or another.
“When this bill comes to the floor, there will be an amendment introduced by a senator to refer the matter to voters,” wrote Gary Randall of Faith & Freedom Network & Foundation in his blog to supporters. “A number of legislators would prefer to see this happen. Will they cave in to Gov. Gregoire, Sen. Ed Murray, Rep. Jamie Pedersen and others who are pressuring lawmakers not to send it to the people? “If the Legislature refuses to refer this issue to the people, then we will begin a referendum or initiative … We will do everything we can do with God’s help and your support because I believe we are called to stand against the moral decline in the culture and for righteousness.”
Gregoire, on the other hand, said in a news conference that both she and the public have evolved in their thinking about same-sex marriage, and she thinks it would be wrong to deny marriage equality to the homosexual community.
Same-sex marriage is now legal in six states — New York, Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont —?and the District of Columbia. But if it eventually goes to a public vote in Washington, approval is by no means guaranteed. In all 34 states where the issue has gone to a public election — including in Oregon in 2004 — voters have supported a ban on same-sex marriage.
Legislative approval of same-sex marriage became likely when state Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen (D-Camano Island) on Jan. 23 announced her support, giving proponents the 25 Senate votes needed for passage. The state House already has enough support to approve the measure.
The Senate Government Operations, Tribal Relations and Elections Committee voted Jan. 26 to forward an amended version of the marriage redefinition bill to the Rules Committee.
The panel OK’d an amendment eliminating clauses that would have allowed churches to be penalized for refusing to accommodate same-sex marriage ceremonies if they offer related facilities, services, or goods to the public for a fee, and to be sued if their refusal violates Washington’s law against discrimination. The committee also added a definition for what types of “religious organization[s]” would be protected for refusing to accommodate a same-sex marriage ceremony.
But the panel turned down efforts by Sen. Dan Swecker (R-Rochester) to amend Senate Bill 6239 so it offers stronger protection of people’s religious beliefs. His amendments would have extended protection to anyone for refusing to assist with a same-sex marriage ceremony for religious reasons, allowed religious adoption agencies to refuse to place children with same-sex couples, and explicitly allowed clergy to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages. The committee also rejected a motion from Sen. Don Benton (R-Vancouver) to add a referendum clause to the bill, which would have required a vote of the people before the measure would be enacted.
The House Judiciary Committee was scheduled to take executive action on the House marriage redefinition bill on Jan. 30. In an apparent attempt to expedite this bill, the House of Representatives was set to vote on final passage possibly as soon as that same day. The Senate’s vote was likely to happen that same week.
Meanwhile, Everett, Wash., attorney Stephen Pidgeon, who has done work for Protect Marriage Washington, an anti-gay marriage coalition, has filed an initiative to give voters an opportunity to repeal the gay marriage law if passed. The initiative needs 241,153 signatures from registered voters by July 6 to qualify for the November ballot.
Joseph Backholm, executive director of the Family Policy Institute of Washington, also plans to spearhead a separate referendum to repeal legalization of gay marriage.
Where the public stands varies according to which poll is followed.
An October 2011 poll from the University of Washington’s Center for Survey Research indicated 55 percent of voters would uphold same-sex marriage in a referendum vote, with 38 percent of the poll’s 938 respondents saying they would vote to repeal. But a survey last month of 400 voters by the National Organization for Marriage found only 36 percent in favor of same-sex marriage, 57 percent opposed and 7 percent undecided.buy vibramycin doxycyclinedoxycycline 40 mg genericbuy doxycycline online us generic brand viagra cialis levitra tadapox in the us cialis 4467 brand viagra price in south africa cheap doxycycline hyclatedoxycycline hyclate 100mg online cialis cost with prescription discount cialis coupons domperidone buy us price of doxycycline 100 mg at walmart