Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Washington Senate Passes Marriage Equality

Today the Washington state Senate passed SB6239 which deregulated marriage to allow same-sex couples to enter marriage contracts. Republicans tried to delay by peppering the bill with proposed amendment, including one that said that legal officials who dislike same-sex marriage don't have to do their job. That one failed. Oddly, Republicans routinely decry marriage equality legislation, claiming it takes up important time for "important" issues. Yet, when they face such legislation they intentionally try to drag it out as long as possible, taking up yet even more time.

Republican  Don Benton chimed in claiming that marriage legislation is like gravity. Apparently he has grandiose visions of what legislation does. Contract laws, such as marriage contracts, are no the equivalent of gravity by any means. The pompous Benton said that "the great citizens of state" should decide if minorities have rights or not. But it was pointed out that when the legislature had previously banned same-sex marriages there was no demand by Republicans that the voters decide. (True, Republican support for referendums is not a matter of principle—whatever system is most likely to give them powers over the lives of others is what they seek.)

Republican Dan Swecker claimed the legislation will silence opponents to marriage equality. Of course, this is why there is no vocal opposition to equal rights in places like Iowa or New Hampshire, because same-sex marriage magically causes muteness among the bigoted. Democrat Jim Hargrove said he would vote against equal rights because his religion demands it. I guess he missed the part of swearing to uphold the Constitution and thought they said "uphold your church's theology" instead.

Sen. Steve Hobbs, said he was voting yes though he doesn't think his conservative district will like it. Hobbs said he served in the military with gay men and does so now in the National Guard. He said those soldiers were willing "to take a bullet for me" and that he didn't believe he could look them in the eye and tell them he voted against their equal rights. He said: "I will never leave a comrade behind."

The chief sponsor of the bill, Sen. Ed Murray, told the senators that no matter how they voted, he would invited them to his wedding to his partner, Michael Shiosaki when he was finally free to marry.

In the end the vote was 28 to 21, a comfortable margin for the legislation. Two additional Republicans voted to pass the bill. The antigay National Organization for (sic) Marriage had promised to spend $250,000 to defeat any Republican who dared vote for individual rights and liberty. This means they are on the hook for $1 million in extra spending in the state, if they remain true to their word. Given that they are having to spend huge sums in New York to defeat pro-freedom Republicans there, and the battles they are funding in Minnesota, Maine, Maryland, Iowa, New Hampshire and state-wide efforts in Washington, it will be an expensive year for bigotry.

A comfortable majority in the state House already has signed on to support the legislation and it is expected to pass there next week with the governor promising to sign the legislation. Religious bigots promise to repeal the measure and strip gay couples of their equal rights.

Meanwhile, it appears strongly likely that Maryland will also pass marriage equality in a short time.

Republicans in New Hampshire are trying to reimpose regulations on marriage to restrict it to a privileged class of heterosexuals only. Even the fraudulent Republican Liberty Caucus is joining in the call for more government control of marriage.

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