Spin Control

House to debate gay marriage bill Wednesday

OLYMPIA -- The House of Representatives scheduled a debate on the same-sex marriage bill to begin at 1 p.m. Wednesday.

Representatives will be debating SB 6239, the version that passed the Senate last week, rather than a House version of the bill.

The two bills started out identical, but the Senate agreed to some -- although not all -- amendments last week proposed by critics who said the original bills didn't go far enough to protect the rights of people or organizations with deeply held religious beliefs that marriage is only between one man and one woman. Clergy would not be required to perform same-sex weddings if it goes against their faith and church groups couldn't be sued for refusing to allow such ceremonies in their facilities. For a story on the Senate debate, click here.

If the House passes the Senate bill without any further amendments, it would go to Gov. Chris Gregoire, who has said she would sign it. If the House adopts any amendments, the bill would have to return to the Senate for another vote.

The bill would not become law until early June, and then only if it isn't headed for the November ballot. As it now stands, the bill does not have a referendum clause, but opponents have said they will mount a signature drive to gather the 120,000-plus signatures needed to put it before voters. If their signature drive is successful, the law is put on hold and doesn't take effect unless it receives majority support in the general election.

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Jim Camden
Jim Camden is the Olympia bureau chief, covering the Legislature and state government. He also is a political columnist and blogger for Spin Control.

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