Marriage Equality Bill Introduced in Washington State

SB 5793, a marriage equality bill, was introduced in the Washington state senate today. A matching bill is set to be introduced in the House tomorrow.

From Senator Ed Murray's office:

Murray In early February of 1998, in what has proven to be the darkest of Valentine's for gay and lesbian families in our state, the Legislature enshrined discrimination as the law of the land in Washington by overriding the veto of then-Gov. Gary Locke to approve the so-called "Defense of Marriage Act."

This Valentine’s Day, Rep. Jim Moeller, D-Vancouver, and Sen. Ed Murray, D-Seattle, said the night is darkest just before the dawn.

"Over the past several years, the Legislature and the public together have been steadily building a bridge to equality for gay and lesbian families," said Moeller. He noted the passage of civil rights legislation in 2006 protecting gays and lesbians from discrimination in employment, housing, and financial transactions, and then three successive years of securing broader and broader domestic partnership rights — which included successfully withstanding a hostile referendum challenge at the ballot in 2009.

"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."

Under the proposed legislation, religious freedom is protected as is the clergy's right to choose for whom to perform marriage ceremonies. Also, domestic partnerships are maintained.


  1. daftpunkydavid says

    this is awesome news. let’s hope people are FINALLY coming to their senses on matters of equality for all. maryland, rhode island, new york, washington? fingers crossed.

  2. Travis says

    What are its chances?

    Agree with Daftpunky- nuts to think that if all states pass their legislation the number of states with marriage equality would double. Times are a changing…and fast!

  3. says

    “Gay and lesbian families in Washington now enjoy the same state spousal rights that their married straight friends enjoy – except for the name ‘marriage’ ”

    Is this really an accurate statement?

    What about all of those federal marriage issues, like the ones bi-national couples encounter that rip their family apart?

  4. AJ says

    He says very specifically “state spousal rights”, and that’s exactly what it means. At the state level, with the exception of qualifying for a SRDP requiring a shared abode, all rights of married couples are granted to same-sex couples.

    Washington State in 2009 became the first state to expand partnership rights via popular vote, and it was all of them. The only difference is, again, the name and the fact that you need to be living in the same home for 6 months.

  5. says

    Even in-state, there is not true equality when there are two separate institutions for gay and straight couples. As other states have discovered, including my state–VT, the status of marriage matters both symbolically and in practical terms. Marriage is universally understood, partnership benefits under various names are not.

    The good news is that partnership benefits are an important stepping stone towards equality, and when voters and fair-minded legislators (i.e not right-wing Republicans) understand that there is no threat from legal gay unions and no true justice without full marriage equality, they become willing to make the leap. Times are changing.

  6. TampaZeke says

    I’m lovin this. NOM is going to have so many fronts to try to cover with their hate and lies.

  7. Lourdes says

    This is why having openly gay state legislators like Ed Murray is so important. Elect our own and they work for our community.

  8. Seattleite says

    This is great news, but I have to add that Senator Murray has introduced this bill every year since 1998. He mentions that support is growing each year, but this is nothing new. I wish marriage were legalized, but with our Referendum 71 just recently passed, I think it is still too soon to push for marriage.

  9. justme says

    Yes, Murray has been working hard since 1998 and his work has paid off year after year. To dismiss this as little more than a pipe dream is misleading to say the least, when it is, instead, the final step in a very long and very successful plan.

    Instead of asking for everything all at once, the plan has been to ask for a little at a time. But to ask for it every single year and to grow on what you got in all the years past. That was the plan, it was specifically not a secret, and the state of Washington has enacted every thing the plan required.

    Now, there’s only one final step and it’s a tiny one in a continent where marriage equality is fast becoming the rule instead of the exception and in a state that has everything but final marriage equality.

    So, no, it is not too soon. This has been methodically and openly plotted and enacted and it has worked. Everyone in Washington was fully well aware that this was the next and final step after Ref 71 and they said yes to Ref 71 knowing this. This is not only not too soon, this is specifically the time to get it done, just as was planned and just as everyone expected.

    Murray knows exactly what he’s doing, as his astonishing track record of success proves, so why choose to not see that? Especially when you’re directly benefitting from it?

  10. Seattleite says

    Sorry, I should have been more clear– I was trying to add to this post, since it wasn’t mentioned that this legislature has been introduced many times prior. I’m confident that Murray is well aware of what he is doing, and how he is going about raising awareness of equal rights. I have only been able to vote for the past five years (due to age, not citizenship, etc), and out for four of those years, so I have not been as educated on WA’s history as I potentially could have been. I do, in fact, see Murray’s astonishing track record, but a small part of me feels like there might be some advantages to letting the general population of WA get accustomed to the ‘everything but marriage’ law before we go storming after the title of marriage, too. Maybe I am not aggressive enough, or too pessimistic, but I feel we would have better odds of success by not asking for full equality so soon after achieving such a big step in the fight for full equality. I also agree that it might be best to ‘strike while the iron is hot,’ but I guess I think it may be asking for too much, too soon. I would love to see it covered by the media more, and potentially be put up to a vote (whether by our legislators or public vote), since I plan on filing for Domestic Partnership this year, and will be the first in line when marriage is legalized.

    All in all, I guess any publicity is good publicity, but I fear that people will think we are the next state to battle it out, when in reality, I have seen this topic every year for the past decade.

  11. Rich says

    Uh oh, get ready for the invasion of Gallagher, NOM and the FRC hate machine in WA state if it passes. Then again, the legislature will do as they always do, avoid making a decision and punt it to the voters.

  12. Bruno says

    I would expect this not to survive a popular vote. Referendum 71 passed with only 53% of the vote, despite the fact that polls regarding domestic partnerships had shown higher favorable numbers. As usual, hope I’m wrong.

  13. Mathew says

    I’m slightly cynical about all this. If organizations were able to put the domestic partnership law onto the ballow back in 2009, then they will definitely be putting this on the ballot as well. Furthermore, Ref. 71 passed by a slim margin, and it was only regarding domestic partnerships.

  14. Javier says

    If mere domestic partnership rights barely were passed by voters in 2009, why would anyone think voters will ratify full same-sex marriage rights anytime soon? It is the same mistake we made in CA, ME, multiple other states. What good is it to legislatively or judicially win gay marriage when voters inevitably will stamp them out? Washington has a history of some of the most antigay referendas in the nation, along with OR and ME. Gay marriage would certainly be placed on the ballot and repealed if the legislature passed it.

  15. says

    1900 – 1.6 Billion People,
    2011 – 6.9 Billion People,
    111 years – 5.3 Billion People,
    333 years – 15.9 Billion People,
    15.9 + 6.9 = 22.8 Billion People by the year 2344,
    Solution – Stop Creating Children,
    The life you save just might be the one you don’t create.