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BREAKING: Washington Senate passes marriage equality bill

Marriage equality

By Jacob Combs

As anticipated, a proposed marriage equality bill passed the Washington Senate tonight, with a final vote tally of 28-21.

The bill cleared a House committee on Monday, and now moves onto another fiscal committee before it will go to the full House, where it is expected to pass.

Check back here on P8TT throughout the night for analysis. Congratulations, Washington!

UPDATE: If you’re interested in the steps that led up to the final vote tonight, Slog, the Seattle Stranger’s blog, followed today’s Senate proceedings live.  Before the session began, Sen. Brian Hatfield (a Democrat) announced his support for the bill, becoming the 26th Senator to do so.  Two Republicans who were previously undecided also voted in favor–Sen. Andy Hill and Sen. Joe Fain–bringing the total yes count to 28.  The bill could be taken up in the House as early as February 8; the legislative session will last until March 8.

After the bill  passed, Gov. Chris Gregoire, who has been strongly supportive of the push for marriage equality in Washington this year, released the following statement:

Tonight the Washington State Senate stood up for what is right and told all families in our state that they are equal and that the state cannot be in the business of discrimination. I believe that this decision should be made by our state Legislature, and I’m proud our elected leaders recognized that responsibility.

Tonight we saw the best of Washington and our leaders. They were respectful and they were kind. I thank Sen. Ed Murray for his leadership.

This vote was courageous and was only possible with bipartisan support. That support shows Washington’s commitment to equality. Fair-minded and responsible leaders crafted a bill that protects religious freedoms while ensuring equal rights. I commend our state Senators who acknowledged tonight that separate but equal is not equal.

Tonight our families are better for this vote. Our kids have a brighter future for this bill. And our state is better for this bill. I encourage the House to approve this bill and get it to my desk for my signature. I look forward to the day when all Washington citizens have equal opportunity to marry the person they love.”


  • 1. Bob  |  February 1, 2012 at 8:03 pm

    Yes!!!!!!!!! way to go Washington,,,,,,,,,,

  • 2. Tyler  |  February 1, 2012 at 8:06 pm

    Very proud of my home state. Interesting fact: 4 Republican senators (the same number as in the New York Senate) voted yes, without whose votes this bill would have failed.

  • 3. Alex  |  February 1, 2012 at 8:07 pm

    As much as this is exciting news the opponents of this bill will just get enough signatures for a referendum and place it on the ballot. Then we have a Prop 8 style campaign and we will loose.

  • 4. EricKoszyk  |  February 1, 2012 at 8:17 pm

    Wow, way to be a defeatist, Alex.

    #1 The anti marriage equality folks might not get the required signatures for this to go to the ballot.

    The last referendum on gay relationships in WA, 2009's Referendum 71, barely got on the ballot.

    #2 If we campaign hard, there is a great chance we will win.

    Referendum 71 passed 53- 47. Since 2009, there has been an increased awareness over marriage equality and several more states have legalized it.

    This is doable!

  • 5. Alex  |  February 1, 2012 at 8:22 pm

    I already know about Referendum 71 and how many people voted against repeating the DP law. Lets be realistic here, marriage is so much different than Domestic Partnership to some people. Just because they were OK with DP doesn't mean they are ready for marriage now. You don't like the truth, get over it; it is my opinion.

  • 6. Alex  |  February 1, 2012 at 8:24 pm

    people voted against REPEALING*

  • 7. yael  |  February 1, 2012 at 8:26 pm

    wow you seem to be a very sad person bro be happy this is a good day enjoy the moment and stop been so a downer

  • 8. Alex  |  February 1, 2012 at 9:34 pm

    Actually no it is called being realistic.

  • 9. pal  |  February 2, 2012 at 12:37 am

    Totally, what is with all these people being so comfortable so soon with this decision? It will become law and then the religious A-holes will just take it away again. it is pretty obvious how this works. Though I am a pessimistic person to begin with…

  • 10. pal  |  February 2, 2012 at 12:40 am

    Whatever, the moment will just be taken away. So why even get all happy just yet? It will only make it worse for the day it is taken away, and it will be taken away. Too many god fearing people in this backward nation.

  • 11. devon  |  February 2, 2012 at 5:29 am

    Sadly, I agree with pal and alex. Enough signatures with undoubtedly be collected to force a vote. The mormon church and the right wing have almost unlimited $ to spend to defeat marriage equality. Black church leaders will spread the hate throughout the state, and their members will vote accordingly.

  • 12. EricKoszyk  |  February 1, 2012 at 8:33 pm

    I never said it's not going to be an expensive, hard fight. It will be a tough fight, but in the end we can win and it's worth the effort.

    I don't think that Equal Rights WA and Senator Murray would have pushed this through this year if they didn't see some polls showing that this is winnable.

  • 13. Alex  |  February 1, 2012 at 9:37 pm

    This is what the people running the No On Prop 8 campaign stated. Polls don't really prove much anything anyways. People tend to tell you things that you want to hear and that they might not want the person that is polling to think they are a bigot.

  • 14. pal  |  February 2, 2012 at 12:39 am


  • 15. Jacob  |  February 2, 2012 at 9:21 am

    You're free to hold your opinion, but I don't really see how it contributes anything. Not being sure how a potential vote may come out is a silly reason to stop trying to win equality. I'd much sooner lose a close and hard-fought battle than throw my hands in the air and walk away.

    The most recent votes–in Maine and California–were separated by five percentage points at most, and they were in 2008 and 2009. You don't have to be a wild optimist to think Washington (and Maine and Maryland) and worthy opportunities in 2012.

  • 16. fiona64  |  February 2, 2012 at 10:27 am

    Two percentage points in CA, really. The haters try to call it 4 percentage points, but that's because they're bad at basic math. 52 percent to 48 percent is only a two percentage-point victory … because the other two points make it a tie. Plus, we also know that *many* people who voted "yes" were under the impression that they were voting in favor of marriage equality — who will not be duped the same way again.

  • 17. allen  |  February 1, 2012 at 8:36 pm

    Being a Californian who had been in a relationship with my other for 6 years before Prop 8 passed, and who discussed the prospects of marriage in the period between the allowance of marriage and the stripping away, I understand how depressing the very thought of a referendum will be. But this is a great moment. This is an even greater moment for WA residents (my straight brother included.)

    No one's disagreeing that our toughest fight is and will always be with the average voter, but for me, this is a moment worth celebrating and sharing.

  • 18. Mark M. (Seattle)  |  February 2, 2012 at 8:40 am

    It's NOT the truth Alex it's as you say YOUR opinion

  • 19. Stefan  |  February 1, 2012 at 9:13 pm

    Remember too that 2009 was an off year election, which are always skewed to the right. 2012 will be an election year, in which turnout will be high among younger, more progressive persons.

  • 20. pal  |  February 2, 2012 at 12:27 am

    I totally agree.

  • 21. pal  |  February 2, 2012 at 12:33 am

    Whatever, equality will just be taken away again. What is with all you optimistic people, c'mon let's be realistic. It will go to the ballot box and we will lose. It is going to be awhile before a majority of society votes in favor of us at the ballot box, think about it.

  • 22. Brett  |  February 2, 2012 at 7:59 am

    So basically you're saying: If we're just going to lose, there's no point in trying. So, lets all just go home and whine and cry.

    An attitude like that will get us NOWHERE. We need to celebrate the small victories, and that's exactly what this is — a victory. Even if the law is repealed at the ballot box, more people will open their eyes to what is actually going on and how people are being harmed by inequality, and it will still move things forward. Two steps forward and one step back is still forward progress.

  • 23. Jacob  |  February 2, 2012 at 9:28 am

    Seriously. I can't understand the argument at all. "This is too hard–let's not try." Truly words to live by! Civil rights leaders would be proud.

  • 24. fiona64  |  February 2, 2012 at 10:28 am

    You know what, dude? I'm beginning to think you're a troll.

  • 25. Andrew  |  February 1, 2012 at 8:10 pm

    I served as a Mormon missionary to Washington from 2006-2007. And I follow this website every day. I'm glad to see good old Washington is starting to come around. Hopefully we can stave off/beat the referrendum and keep same sex marriage in one of my favorite states.

  • 26. Karl  |  February 1, 2012 at 8:15 pm

    What is the situation in Washington re referendums–each state constitution is different.

    I personally believe that even if that happens it is excellent progress when legislature pass this and it doesn't just happen in the courts. We have some very important court decisions coming down very soon. A great day for Freedom in Washington.

  • 27. Tyler  |  February 1, 2012 at 8:32 pm

    If they gather 120,000 signatures between when the governor signs the bill and sometime in June (which they will) it goes on the ballot for a majority vote. I suspect the Ninth Circuit might be waiting for the bill to pass before it gets involved. I wonder what effect its ruling will have on the vote…

  • 28. Steve  |  February 2, 2012 at 2:40 am

    So it won't go into effect until June at the earliest?

  • 29. jpmassar  |  February 2, 2012 at 9:30 am


  • 30. Bill S.  |  February 2, 2012 at 3:25 am

    The Ninth Circuit can't rule on a bill that hasn't passed yet, so they can't make any rulings regarding this, or any potential referendum until it actually happens.

    If you're talking about the Prop 8 case, the Ninth Circuit will not base its decision, or when it will release its decision, on this law.

  • 31. Peterplumber  |  February 2, 2012 at 5:50 am

    With R-71, we learned that all of Eastern Washington is anti marriage equality. That is where they will go to gather the signatures. HOWEVER, all of King County (Seattle and surrounding areas) is very liberal and outnumbers the rest of the state put together! The people of Eastern Washington were very upset that the votes of one or two western counties overruled the rest of the entire population of the state.
    Let's do it again!!!

  • 32. AnonyGrl  |  February 1, 2012 at 8:21 pm

    Fantastic news!!! Good for Washington!

  • 33. Gregory in SLC  |  February 1, 2012 at 8:23 pm

    Reminiscent of NY victory…so inspiring and goose-bump-thrilling!

  • 34. EricKoszyk  |  February 1, 2012 at 9:01 pm

    Gay rights activists have kept other anti gay initiatives off the WA ballot before. We can do it again with a lot of hard work.

    In 1994, anti gay initiatives 608 and 610 failed to get enough signatures to be placed on the ballot, in part because the LGBT community educated Washingtonians and asked folks not to sign the petitions.

  • 35. bndkllr2  |  February 1, 2012 at 9:05 pm

    I feel so grateful to my dad Jerry Hogan in Oak Harbor, WA, who called Senator Haugan to support marriage. She, of course, became the 25th vote needed to pass this, and I believe her speech, given on the day she came out for equality helped to sway several of the undecided senators who stepped up. When I retire from the Army in 3 years, I can finally get married in my home state. Thanks, dad!!!!!!!!!

  • 36. AliceCyr  |  February 1, 2012 at 9:30 pm

    Kudos to Washington State on passing the gay marriage bill. This is about equality not morality and is long over due.

  • 37. Fluffyskunk  |  February 4, 2012 at 1:09 am

    Oh, but this is about morality. Morality means doing what is right, and passing equality was the right thing to do.

  • 38. Justin  |  February 1, 2012 at 9:58 pm

    It's time to increase the pressure on the Democrats who control Illinois to pass a marriage bill. There is no referendum power in Illinois, so a legislative outcome there will stick. And let's face it, if the voters of Illinois did not throw out the Dems in the 2010 wave after Blago's scandal, a little thing like a marriage bill is not going to displace them either.

  • 39. Ann S.  |  February 1, 2012 at 10:29 pm

    Hooray for Washington!

  • 40. Bryce  |  February 1, 2012 at 11:31 pm

    So they have already archived the debate and vote if you missed it:….

    My favorite parts:
    1:18: Marriage equality won't hurt anyone, and in fact it is a testament to traditional marriage.
    1:18:45: "I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm ready to vote."
    1:21:40: Start of the vote.
    1:23:40: Announcement of the results. The best part of this whole night is that it looked like they were going to try to stop the celebration, and they decided not to.

  • 41. Dr Brent Zenobia  |  February 2, 2012 at 6:00 am

    Congratulations Washingtonians!

    – from your friends across the river in Oregon

  • 42. chris from CO  |  February 2, 2012 at 7:23 am

    Congrats to washington.

  • 43. chris from CO  |  February 2, 2012 at 7:43 am

    I have a intresting thought: why couldn't the voters have to referendums to vote for on this issue, first one will recongnize marriage between one man and one women. Then under that one we coud add a referendum that will allow the state to recongnize any to people of the same sex as married. Giving voters two ref. at the same time could increase our chances of the voters passing it in our favor, we could see a lot of yes yes, or no yes votes. My idea is a gamble through the dice and see what people think.

  • 44. AnonyGrl  |  February 2, 2012 at 10:00 am

    Polls are for finding out what people really think. Votes should never be used to take away civil rights. That is the problem with referendums. The rights of the minority should never be subject to a vote by the majority. Ever.

  • 45. chris from CO  |  February 2, 2012 at 12:45 pm

    You know I agree with that idea, but wether it is right or wrong we need to counter there Ref because could go to the ballot by nov.

  • 46. Brett  |  February 2, 2012 at 8:33 am

    I think it's important to remember the context of what's going on here. My understand is that Washington's Domesitc Partnerships are "everything but marriage." So, when people support domestic partnerships but oppose same sex marriage, they oppose sharing a word, and nothing else.

    Even a child could point out how ridiculous it is to withhold this word.

    Boy: I have a hoodie!
    Girl: I have a hoodie too!
    Boy: No, you have a hooded sweatshirt. Only boys get to have hoodies because that's what traditional couture says.
    Girl: But…mine is the same in every way as yours, why can't I call it a hoodie?
    Boy: Because mine is better than yours.
    Girl: They're…the…same….

    To me, that's pretty much sums up their argument against being able to call a same sex relationship a marriage.

  • 47. Cat  |  February 2, 2012 at 8:49 am

    That's what the judge in (I believe) the Golinksi case called a 'kindergarten argument': excluding others the increase the perceived value of something. I was surprised to see a judge use such a strong (but very apt) label in his questions.

  • 48. Billa  |  February 2, 2012 at 10:38 am

    I live in Washington and am cautiously optimistic. The legislation will pass, that I am sure of. The referendum will happen and the vote will be close (but knowing Washington, it could go either way). We are under the 9th circuit so the ruling on Prop 8 ruling will have a direct effect. and then the SCOTUS will rule. I dream of marrying my cupcake, but I am not holding my breath… It will happen, but not as soon as we wish… It'll just take time.

  • 49. Brett  |  February 2, 2012 at 11:13 am

    Unfortunately, I don't think marrying baked goods is covered by the Prop 8 ruling. 😉 (Just teasin')

  • 50. Salwriter  |  February 2, 2012 at 10:50 am

    Mazel tov, Washington!
    Here in Eugene, Oregon the story was buried in on page B-5 instead splashed across the front page as it deserved. I had to search to find it — one scrawny column tucked in alongside a double-spread obituary page. Kind of a buzz kill.
    But hey, the news media's habitual marginalizing of our long struggle for justice is nothing new. I give it a listless Bronx cheer and get on with my victory dance. A win is a win. Every step forward is significant. No matter what happens with signatures and a possible referendum, any progress toward marriage equality anywhere brings us closer to marriage equality everywhere.
    Keepin' my eyes on the prize!

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