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Washington marriage equality updates: bill clears House committee, goes to full Senate on Wednesday

Marriage equality

By Jacob Combs

Today, the Washington state House Judiciary Committee approved a proposed marriage equality bill on a party line 7-6 vote.  Republicans offered three amendments to the bill: two allowing further exemptions for religious convictions, and one that would have instated a six-month residency limit (presumably to limit out-of-state couples in jurisdictions without marriage equality from coming to Washington to get married). All three amendments were rejected, as well as an attempt to put the law on the November ballot as a referendum.

Last week, Washington’s marriage equality bill passed the Senate Government Operations, Tribal Relations & Election Committee on another party line vote, 4-3.  It will go on for a full Senate floor vote on Wednesday.  Since 25 senators, enough for it to pass, have already committed their support, the question now becomes how many and which other senators (if any) will vote in favor of the bill to be on the right side of history without having to be the deciding vote to make the measure pass.  No date has been set yet for the full House vote.

If you live in Washington (or somewhere nearby), Washington United for Marriage is looking for your help to fill the state capitol with as many marriage equality supporters as possible for the Senate vote.  You can sign up for more information here.  As always, we’ll have coverage and analysis of what happens in the Washington Senate here on P8TT!

Update (Adam): Sources close to the process tell me opponents are very likely to begin to collect signatures to hold a ballot referendum on the marriage bill in November. 120,557 signatures are required and the deadline to turn them in is June 6. Many of you remember the Referendum 71 campaign in 2009 on certain domestic partnership protections enacted into law; this is similar.

Update 2 (Jacob): I changed the lede of this story to reflect an update from this CBS article, which states that the next stop for the bill in the House is not a floor vote in the full chamber, but rather a fiscal committee.  No hearing date has been set for that committee.  There is a bit of a tactical decision necessary for marriage equality supporters in the timing of the bill’s progression through the legislature.  Opponents have promised they will collect the necessary signatures to put the issue on the ballot in November, but they cannot actually begin collecting signatures until the bill passes.  Because the deadline for turning in the signatures (as Adam stated above) is in June, it could behoove marriage equality advocates in the legislature to pass the bill late in the session, making it more difficult for opponents to organize a successful signature drive.


  • 1. Rich  |  January 30, 2012 at 5:57 pm

    Yes, go Washington! We in Maine are behind you all the way. Let's make this happen and let us start a wave of righteous equality from coast to coast!

  • 2. thark  |  January 30, 2012 at 6:14 pm

    That cynical 6 months waitign period would have to apply to str8 couples too, now wouldn't it.

    Unless you're a hapless Antigay with a bias you have yet to explain…

    Separate but equal, is a non-starter, here in the Pro-Equality 21st century!

  • 3. Gregory in SLC  |  January 30, 2012 at 7:42 pm

    @ That cynical 6 months waitign period would have to apply to str8 couples too, now wouldn't it

  • 4. Chris  |  January 30, 2012 at 6:57 pm

    They can't file for a referendum until after the law has been passed and signed by the governor.

  • 5. DaveP  |  January 30, 2012 at 10:15 pm

    Oooh. So – just how long would the Governor have to wait to sign it to assure the anti-equality folks no loner had enough time to get it on the ballot and spread all the anti-gay propaganda that would be necessary to make such a referendum pass? ….

  • 6. Josh  |  January 31, 2012 at 3:46 pm

    Looks like their legislative session will be over around March 8th. Hmm, I guess it would not look good to extend the session into, say the end of May and then pass the bill.

  • 7. Seth from Maryland  |  January 30, 2012 at 7:50 pm

    is there any where we can watch online when they vote?

  • 8. Kaessa  |  February 1, 2012 at 10:13 am

  • 9. Reformed  |  January 30, 2012 at 9:25 pm

    Is there a waiting period after it passes before it goes into effect?

  • 10. rocketeer500  |  January 31, 2012 at 11:34 am

    During session, governor must sign or veto legislation within 5 days of transmittal (excepting Sundays), or it becomes law without signature. Bills transmitted within the last 5 days of the session must be acted upon by the governor within 20 days of adjournment (excepting Sundays).

  • 11. Maine Dave  |  January 31, 2012 at 4:43 am

    Wonderful news!!!

  • 12. Hanoumatoi  |  January 31, 2012 at 9:52 pm

    We should pass this right away. It's not right to play politics with rights, and I have faith that my fellow Washingtonians will join me in rejecting any attempt to remove rights from fellow citizens.

  • 13. Prop 8 Trial Tracker &raq&hellip  |  February 1, 2012 at 11:49 am

    […] we reported earlier this week, the full Washington Senate will vote on a proposed marriage equality bill today.  The measure is expected to pass the chamber, since […]

  • 14. Prop 8 Trial Tracker &raq&hellip  |  February 1, 2012 at 8:02 pm

    […] bill cleared a House committee on Monday, and now moves onto another fiscal committee before it will go to the […]

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