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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Spin Control

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" 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


OLYMPIA Sen. Mike Padden has an amendment that would extend the ability to refuse to participate in same-sex ceremonies to justices, judges or court commissioners who hold a "deeply held religious belief" against same-sex marriage.

A part-time county clerk in rural New York lost her job for refusing to sign a marriage license for a same sex couple, he said. "There are many, many judicial officers that would be willing to perform these services."

There are many protections built into the bill already," Sen. David Frockt, D-Seattle. "There's no requirement that any judge be required to perform any marriage. It is not necessary."

Amendment fails on a voice vote.

6:46 p.m.


An amendment by Sen. Don Benton, R-Vancouver, to clarify that all "faith-based organizations" are included in the bill's exemptions. It would include religous groups that place children in homes. "This simply clarifies we are talking about these organizations."

Democrats say the protections are already in the bill, bult don't have a problem. It passes on a voice vote

6:44 p.m.

An amendment by Sen. Don Benton, R-Vancouver, that would add facilities on religious college campuses to the religious exemption rule, is adopted by a voice vote.

An amendment by Sen. Mike Padden, R-Spokane Valley, that would extend protection to a religious organization to refuse to provide goods, services or accomodations to a same-sex couple.

Democrats don't object. It passes on a voice vote.


6:42 p.m.

An amendment that strengthens religious protections and makes them harder to veto is approved by a voice vote.



An amendment which removes the "intent" language at the beginning of the bill is approved on a voice vote.



6:38 p.m.

Senators are returning to the floor to begin debate on SB 6239, the same-sex marriage bill.

Before the take up the bill, however, they'll have to deal with 11 amendments that have been filed.

They also just suspended the rule that would force them to quit at 10 p.m., but set rules that limit the number of times a person can speak on a bill or an amendment, and limited speeches to three minutes.

Here we go....

Jim Camden
Jim Camden joined The Spokesman-Review in 1981 and retired in 2021. He is currently the political and state government correspondent covering Washington state.

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