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Senate Vote Veto-Proof On Same-Sex Marriages

Associated Press

A ban on same-sex marriages zipped through the Washington Senate on Wednesday by a veto-proof majority, rebuffing critics who called it government-sponsored bullying of a minority group.

The vote was 33-15, with seven Democrats joining all 26 Republicans in favor.

The plan now goes to the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, where an identical bill awaits a vote.

Democratic Gov. Gary Locke called the bill divisive and unnecessary, since the state already has court decisions against gay marriage. He pulled a red pen from his jacket pocket to indicate his plans to veto it.

Supporters of the ban say they’ll try to override a Locke veto. That takes a two-thirds vote of both houses. Senate Majority Leader Dan McDonald, R-Bellevue, said if that fails, the Legislature will put it on the November ballot for voters to decide, bypassing the governor.

Shortly after the vote, about a dozen women calling themselves “Lesbian Avengers” staged a “kiss-in” on the Capitol steps. They unfurled a huge black plastic banner that said, “Don’t legislate hate,” and passed along a kiss from woman to woman.

The measure, SB5398, defines marriage as the union between a man and a woman and says gay marriages performed elsewhere will not be recognized in Washington state.

In other developments:

Death penalty

Locke endorsed a crackdown on Washington’s young criminals Wednesday, but said he won’t agree to extend the death penalty to 16- and 17-year-old killers.

The Democratic governor, a former King County deputy prosecutor, said he will work with Attorney General Christine Gregoire, prosecutors and legislators to come up with a package that includes stiffer penalties for juvenile offenders, along with greater discretion for judges.

Judges need “a hammer over the head of kids” to force them into drug and alcohol treatment or to stay in school as a part of a deferred sentence, he said. Some violent offenders need tougher penalties, and shouldn’t be allowed to get away with multiple crimes, as they do now, he said.

Locke said his new budget will include extra millions to pay for longer terms and more beds in state-run facilities. He took no position on various juvenile justice bills now being discussed in the Legislature.

He did, however, signal that he’d veto any legislation extending capital punishment to 16- and 17-year-olds.

Peeping Toms

Voyeurism isn’t illegal under Washington law, but that could change under a series of bills being considered by the Legislature.

The House Law and Justice Committee heard testimony Wednesday on bills that would create the crime of voyeurism, and to include voyeurism within the state’s child sexual exploitation law.

Under current law, a voyeur can be sued in civil court for intruding on someone’s privacy. To get a criminal conviction, prosecutors have tried using trespass and burglary laws.

One bill, HB1441, would create the crime of voyeurism, making it illegal to view, photograph or film a person who is either fully or partially nude, when that person can reasonably expect privacy. Prosecutors also must prove the defendant had viewed the victim for sexual gratification.

A proposed amendment would say that customers could expect privacy in store dressing rooms unless a note explicitly states they might be viewed, photographed or filmed. If not, the merchant could be accused of voyeurism.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Joyce McDonald, R-Puyallup, would make voyeurism a gross misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and a $5,000 fine.

A similar bill in the Senate, SB5656, is expected to be considered by the Senate Law and Justice Committee next Tuesday. It is sponsored by Sen. Joseph Zarelli, R-Vancouver.

The second bill the House committee heard, HB1587, would amend the law against sexual exploitation of a minor to make it illegal for an adult, including a parent or guardian, to view or photograph a nude or partially nude child for sexual gratification. The law carries a penalty of up to 10 years in jail and a $20,000 fine.

Rep. Michael Carrell, R-Lakewood, questioned how far the law might be applied.

“I’m sure we all have pictures of ourselves on bearskin rugs or the equivalent,” he said.

“If the grandfather is taking the bearskin rug picture so 20 years later he can embarrass the kid, that’s fine,” responded Pierce County Deputy Prosecutor John Neeb. “If the grandfather is taking the bearskin rug picture to use as a sexual fantasy later, that’s not all right.”

xxxx On the Internet: for the state of Washington’s home page. for the state-run Legislative Service Center.

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