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Spin Control

Posts tagged: SB 6239

House passes gay marriage bill

OLYMPIA — By a vote of 55-43, the House passed and sent to Gov. Chris Gregoire Wednesday a bill that would allow same-sex couples to marry in Washington. Gregoire, who called for such legislation late last year, will sign it sometime within the next week.

After nearly two and a half hours of debate, the House passed SB 6239 without amendments, setting Washington up to be the seventh state in the nation to legalize same sex marriage.

In a debate both impassioned and respectful, supporters describing struggles and discrimination they or their children have had as homosexuals or likening the current laws to statutes that kept interracial couples from marrying….

To read the rest of this post, or to comment, click here to go inside the blog.

House same-sex marriage debate underway

OLYMPIA — The debate in the House on the same-sex marriage bill begins around 1 p.m. and goes until…

…no one's quite sure. But the House has nothing else on the schedule as far as committee hearings this afternoon, and has scheduled a 6 p.m. session this evening, in case they need time for other things they don't get to in the afternoon because of the debate on SB 6239.

Last week, the Senate debate played to full but respectful galleries. But even with votes on a string of amendments, the whole session only lasted about an hour and 20 minutes. Debate could last longer in the House, even though there may be more vote pass the final bill.

Spin Control will be live blogging — or technically live-tweeting — the debate from the House floor with a special widget here on the web site that will be picking up comments and tweets from others. TVW will be carrying the debate live on cable (check local listings for the channel in your area) and on its website.

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.

Senate passes gay marriage bill 28-21

OLYMPIA – With votes to spare, the state Senate passed a bill to allow same-sex couples to marry in Washington, sending it to the House of Representatives where it also has enough votes to pass.

A full gallery erupted after senators passionately but respectfully debated what Sen. Ed Murray, D-Seattle called “as contentious as any this body has considered, then passed it on a 28-21 vote.

Those who oppose it should not be accused of bigotry, Murray said. Those who support it should not be accused of religious intolerance.

“This is a difficult personal issue because it is about what is closest to us…family. Marriage is how society says you are a family.”

To read the rest of this post, or to comment, go inside the blog

Senate passes same sex marriage bill: The live blog


7:58 p.m.

Same-sex marriage bill passes the Senate 28-21. 24 Democrats and 4 Republicans voted yes; 3 Democrats and 18 Republicans voted no.

Gallery erupts.

7:56 p.m.

Sen. Ed Murray, D-Seattle, commends other senators for the quality of the debate. Tomorrow, people who disagree on this bill will work together on other issues.

“Regardless of how you vote on this bill, an invitation will be in the mail” from him and his partner, Michael Shiosaki, Murray said. Earlier in the day, Murray said it's their plan to get married when the law changes.

Roll call vote underway.


7:53 p.m.

Sen. Margarita Prentice D-Renton,: “I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm ready to vote… We've all had our say. But I think we've just about wrapped it up”

7:49 p.m.

Sen. Cheryl Pflug, R-Maple Valley, said Americans have the ability to look at themselves and ask “do we need to do better.” There was a time when women were chattel and some people were slaves. “The way it's always been is comfortable. It's kind to the majority but not kind to the minority.”

Sen. Steve Hobbs, D- Lake STevens, said he's voting for the bill even though “it's not a winner in my district.” But after serving first in the Army and now in the National Guard, he serves with some soldiers who are gay and are willing to “take a bullet for me.”

How could I look them in the eye if I voted no? How could I stand next to them if I voted no?” Hobbs said. “I will never leave a comrade behind.”

7:40 p.m.

Sen. Kevin Ranker, D-Orcas Island, said he grew up with a father who was gay and whose abilities to be a parent were questioned by society.

“We stand ready to take a historic step,” Ranker said. “By continuing to differentiate between loving couples, we separate and isolate. I'm proud to stand on the right side of history. And I'm proud of my father.”

Sen. Jim Hargrove, D-Hoquiam, said he doesn't judge anyone and respects everyone, but will vote against the bill because of his religious belief. He said he wasn't judging anyone: “I am no better than anyone else and I need the forgiveness of my savior every day. But I have to do what is right. .And for me doing the right thing is voting against the bill.”

7:30 p.m.

Debate on SB 6239 begins.

The issue is “as contentious as any issue this body has considered,” Sen. Ed Murray, D-Seattle, said.

Those who oppose it should not be accused of bigotry.. Those who support it should not be accused of religous intolerance, he said.

“This is a difficult personal issue because it is about what is closest to us…family.” Murray said.

“Marriage is how society says you are a family…that a couple is committed to care for each other in health and in sickness.”

“We share the same short moments of life,” Murray said. “That is why we ask you to support this bill.

Sen. Dan Swecker, R-Rochester, says the bill will lead to silencing the people who believe in the traditional view of marriage.

“A bill that purports to be about ending discrimination leaves the door open for discrimination going the other way,” Swecker said. The protections aren't strong enough for people with religous objections, he said, and people who don't want to serve same sex couples because of their beliefs will be discriminated against.

Opponents say marriage is about procreation, but there are no restrictions against heterosexual couples who are too old to have children or aren't physically able to have children, Sen. Debbie Regala, D-Tacoma, said.

7:25 p.m.

Sen. Brian Hatfield, D-Raymond, offers an amendment with a referendum clause, to place the bill on the November ballot.

“I think we'd be saving a lot of time and saying we do trust the voters,” Hatfield said.

“The voters do have the ultimate say. They have the ultimate say when they elect us and send us here to make these decisions,” Sen. Lisa Brown, D-Spokane, said. “Any bill we pass here…the voters can come forward, they can collect signatures and they can submit it for a vote.”

Brown said this would be asking people to vote on the rights of the minorities and subject them to the will of the majority. “We're going to reject the concept that separate is equal,” Brown said. “We have a nation of laws, and rights.”

Sen. Mike Padden, R-Spokane Valley, said there's always a tension between what you send to the public and what the voters send legislators to Olympia to do: “If ever there was an issue of what you send to the voters, this is it… It's more basic than our constitution, it's a basic unit of society.”

In all likelihood, the bill is going to be put on the ballot anyway, Padden added.

Sen. Don Benton, R-Vancouver, said changing laws on marriage is like trying to change the law of gravity. If one steps out the window, gravity is still there.

“I think this rises to the level of significant change,” Benton said. “One that should be left to the great citizens of the state to decide . The founding fathers realized there were some issues that were too important for just the Legislature to decide.”

Sen. Ed Murray, D-Seattle, said when the Defense of Marriage Act was passed, no one thought of putting a referendum clause on it. To opponents who say the same-sex marriage law effects only one-half of 1 percent, protecting the rights of the minority “Is what we are all about.”

Roll call vote requested: Amendment fails 23-26.

That's the last amendment. Vote on the bill itself to follow.


7:10 p.m.

Sen. Don Benton has an amendment that makes “perfectly clear rather than generally” that religously affiliated foster care services are exempt from the law.

Supporters argue the amendment is “duplicative” with amendments already passed.

“It's important we have our agreements with ourselves and the governor in the law,” Benton said.

Roll call vote requested. Amendment fails 23-26.

7:03 p.m.

Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen, D-Camano Island, offers an amendment that provides protections for religious-based organizations that provide foster care.

Sen. Craig Pridemore, D-Vancouver, said courts place children in “the best interest of the child,” and the bill won't change that, but supporters don't object.

It passes by a voice vote.


Sen. Dan Swecker, R-Rochester, calls for a vote on an amendment that would offer

Protects clergy collars, but what about the blue collar worker?

“The amendment reaches into our civil rights statutes,” Sen. Ed Murray, D-Seattle, said. If opponents want to amend the civil rights statutes which ban discrimination for sexual orientation, they should do that.

“It's a problem in search of a solution,” Sen. Lisa Brown, D-Spokane, said. “This amendment is not necessary.”

Sen. Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville, said when the sexual orientation language was added to the state's civil rights protections, “the proponents assured us it was never about marriage.”

Amendment fails 22-27.

To read earlier posts in this string, go inside the blog

Ed Murray: ‘No doubt’ same-sex bill will go to ballot

Sen. Ed Murray, left, and his partner Michael Shiosaki discuss the same-sex marriage bill.

OLYMPIA — The state Senate will be debating the same-sex marriage bill in front of a full gallery and possibly late into the evening.

But it has the 25 votes needed to pass SB 6239, its prime sponsor, Sen. Ed Murray, D-Seattle, said.

The galleries have been filling since late afternoon, and at least a half dozen amendments will be considered before the final vote. One of those amendments will be to put the measure to a vote, but Murray said he was confident that amendment will fail.

The bill could pass the House and be on Gov. Gregoire's desk by the middle of next week, he said.

Despite the fact that supporters can defeat any attempt at a referendum clause, Murray said he had “no doubt” opponents will gather the signatures to suspend the law until it goes to the voters in November.

Appearing before the debate at a press conference with his partner Michael Shiosaki, Murray said Wednesday is “a historic day for gay and lesbian couples in Washington state.”

When they met some 21 years ago, Shiosaki said they “never would've imagined this day would be here.

Although Washington has a domestic partnership law that gives same-sex couples many of the legal rights as a married couple, marriage is special, he added.

“This is the way society says you're a family,” Murray said.

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About this blog

Jim Camden is a veteran political reporter for The Spokesman-Review.

Jonathan Brunt is an enterprise reporter for The Spokesman-Review.

Kip Hill is a general assignments reporter for The Spokesman-Review.

Nick Deshais covers Spokane City Hall for The Spokesman-Review.

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