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Marriage equality bill clears Washington Senate committee

Marriage equality

By Jacob Combs

Today, Washington state’s marriage equality bill was approved in the Government Operations, Tribal Relations & Election Committee on a party-line 4-3 voice vote.  The bill will move to a full floor vote next, although no date for the full vote has been announced.

Several Republican amendments to the bill were rejected by the committee, including one that would have required sending the measure to the ballot in November.  Nevertheless, opponents of marriage equality in the state have promised that if the bill becomes law, they will attempt to collect the more than 120,000 signatures required before July 6 to trigger a referendum.

Congratulations, Washington, and on to the next vote!


  • 1. Bryce  |  January 27, 2012 at 12:08 am

    I can't wait until we know when the Senate will vote!

  • 2. grod  |  January 27, 2012 at 2:06 am
    At a January 26 press conference in Augusta Maine it was announce that petitions to put a referendum question on the ballot in November 2012 would be submitted to the secretary of state. EqualityMaine, the Maine Civil Liberties Union and the Maine Women’s Lobby had collected nearly twice the number of signatures needed. To get the question on this year’s ballot, organizers needed to collect at least 57,277 signatures by Jan. 30

  • 3. Straight Dave  |  January 28, 2012 at 6:53 pm

    The status and schedule for Senate Bill 6239 can be found here.…. No vote scheduled yet that I can see.
    This is the section that bothers me a bit.

    Section 4:
    No state agency or local government may base a decision to penalize, withhold benefits from, or refuse to contract with any church or religious denomination on the refusal of a person associated with such
    church or religious denomination to solemnize a marriage under this section.

    Sounds like it could be used to require the state to continue to fund discriminatory adoption practices. However, if "church or religious denomination" only covers the official church organization, but not any "associated businesses" like Catholic Charities, then I'm probably OK with it. Can anyone clarify how far and wide "church or religious denomination" extends?

  • 4. Straight Dave  |  January 28, 2012 at 7:06 pm

    On a second, more careful reading, I have concluded that this may not be such an offensive provision after all. If all it means is that the state will treat churches the same way they do today, even if they refuse to marry a SS couple, then that's fine. If, however, a church refuses to consider tax-funded SS adoption, then I would have an issue with it.

    I'm so miffed at the whole Catholic adoption victimization attitude that I may have jumped to one too many conclusions here.
    Go Washington! Get it done. And do it early enough to maybe have a tiny bit of influence in NC.

  • 5. grod  |  January 29, 2012 at 5:27 am

    SENATE BILL REPORT SB 6239 As Reported by Senate Committee On:Government Operations, Tribal Relations & Elections, January 26, 2012
    No religious organization is required to provide accommodations, facilities, advantages, privileges, services, or goods RELATED TO the solemnization or celebration of a marriage; a refusal to do so does not create a civil claim or cause of action… Religious organization includes, but is not limited to, churches, mosques, synagogues, temples, nondenominational ministries, interdenominational and ecumenical organizations, mission organizations, faith-based social agencies, and other entities whose principal purpose is the study, practice, or advancement of religion

  • 6. Straight Dave  |  January 29, 2012 at 8:38 am

    Thanks, grod. I missed that part.
    This probably pushes right up to the line of what any church can reasonably expect to be exempted from…..but not one inch more. It probably means that the Knights of Columbus can refuse to rent their reception hall. While that irritates me philosophically, it's a trivial point in the end and, in real life, maybe nobody will be affected too much by it. It'll just end up being another N….head Ranch that decent people don't want to go to anyway.

  • 7. Prop 8 Trial Tracker &raq&hellip  |  January 30, 2012 at 5:25 pm

    […] week, Washington’s marriage equality bill passed the Senate on another party line vote, 4-3.  It will go on for a full Senate floor vote on […]

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