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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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WA Lege Day 36: Gay marriage bill proposed

OLYMPIA -- In what may be a nod to Valentine's Day, two legislators announced they are introducing bills  to legalize gay marriage in Washington state.

State Sen. Ed Murray, D-Seattle, introduced SB 5793 in the Senate. Rep. Jim Moeller, D-Vancover, said he'll drop the companion legislation in the House on Tuesday. It would overturn the Defense of Marriage Act, which was passed over then-Gov. Gary Locke's veto in 1998.

"We've made tremendous progress since 1998," Murray said. "Gay and lesbian families in Washington now enjoy the same state spousal rights that their married straight friends enjoy – except for the name ‘marriage’. The recognition that their loving, lifelong commitment is no different from the loving, lifelong commitment of straight couples is the final step to achieving full equality. I believe the Legislature and the public are both ready to take that final step."

The bill covers civil marriage laws; religious institutions would be free to determine whether they would perform services for same-sex couples.

It also keeps the option of domestic partnerships, which are currently in the law.

The bills may be more symbolic than realistic. This late in the session, they have just one week  to get out of committee or be killed by the first cut-off date, Feb. 21.

The Spokesman-Review's political team keeps a critical eye on local, state and national politics.