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Mon., Jan. 23, 2012, 12:28 p.m.

Same-sex marriage: Senate may have votes

OLYMPIA -- A proposal to give same-sex couples the ability to marry in Washington state may have the25  votes needed to pass the Senate.

Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen, a Camano Island Democrat who was officially undecided on the bill, announced this morning she would vote yes. One of  her main concerns, that religious organizations that oppose same-sex marriage would have legal protections that allow them to refuse to perform such ceremonies, was answered by the latest draft, she said.

Some counts of supporters and opponents estimated there were already 24 votes for the bill before Haugen's announcement.

Meanwhile, supporters and opponents packed two hearing rooms, the Senate galleries and spilled out into the floor of the Capitol, where at least 200 gathered around a pair of monitors showing the Senate Government Operations Committee hearing on SB 6239.

After two hours of sometimes emotional testimony, Sen. Craig Pridemore, D-Vancouver, said the committee would vote on whether to send the bill to the Senate floor on Thursday morning.

A hearing on the companion bill in the House begins at 1:30 p.m., and opponents are rallying over the lunch hour outside the Capitol.

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Jim Camden
Jim Camden joined The Spokesman-Review in 1981. He is currently the political reporter and state government reporter in the newspaper's Olympia bureau office.

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