Two Senate Votes Needed For Marriage Equality In Washington State

Picture 30Washington state is just two senate votes short of legalizing same-sex marriage. But in Washington, even one vote can be hard to come by.

The situation is this: Gov. Christine Gregoire, now in her final year of office, has voiced support for marriage equality. The Democrat-dominated state house overwhelmingly supports equality, too. But in the senate, where the Democrat majority is slimmer, the drive for equality hinges on a shrinking number of undecided legslators. Reuters quotes Sen. Ed Murray, the man behind the legislative push for marriage equality:

"Our gay and lesbian civil rights bill, which took 29 years to pass (in 2006), was always one vote short and I believe this situation is pretty much the same," said Murray, a gay man who hopes to wed his long-term partner in the state.

"We are grandchildren of people who immigrated and homesteaded this state," he said. "We hope that after 20 years of basically being engaged together that we would be able to legally marry in our native state."

The Seattle Times briefly interviewed one of the undecided senators, Brian Hatfield, a Democrat from Raymond, who worried that either a yea or nay vote would alienate too many of his constituents:

"For a number of legislators, (the gay-marriage vote) is not that big of a deal based on their districts, based on their social circle and everything. For me, it is a loser," Hatfield said. "It's a loser no matter what."

The senator says he has good friends on both sides of the issue, and he worries about what a no or yes vote could do to those relationships.

Hatfield also said he struggles with the fact the majority of his district voted against Referendum 71, the so-called "everything but marriage" law. The measure was approved by voters statewide.

"It's not a clear, black-and-white issue as a lot of people on both sides believe it is," he said.

Hatfield said he would prefer that gay marriage be put on the ballot. If it comes to an up-or-down vote on the law in the Senate, he said he's not sure what he'll do.

Murray has insisted he will not support adding a referendum clause to the bill, saying minority rights should not be decided at the ballot.

Just in case the needed two votes are found, anti-marriage activists are mobilizing to ban same-sex marriage with a November ballot initiative. According to the Seattle Times, attorney Stephen Pidgeon, of Everett, is seeking to collect the necessary 241,153 signatures demanding such an initiative by the July 6th deadline.


  1. Ricco says

    I shall be very happy if/when marriage equality gets passed here in my home state of Washington. I should very much like marrying my man in my home state . . . BUT whether it does or not, whether or not I live long enough to see equal marriage throughout my country I will remember and always know that over two hundred years after declaring its independence from King George my country has yet to live up to the BS rhetoric contained therein.

    I will know that ours is a country where one group of people can hold another group of people hostage at the ballot box, so while there may be worse places in the world, no other country can match the United States for its BS and hypocrisy.

  2. Commenter says

    Someone should tell Senator Hatfield that this decision comes down to leadership on his part. It’s not about what’s best–or not best–for him personally.

  3. says

    “It’s not a clear, black-and-white issue as a lot of people on both sides believe it is,”

    Yes it is.
    You’re either for discrimination or against it.

  4. Tim NC says

    Please, don’t write in republican terminology.

    It’s “Democratic-dominated” and “Democratic majority”.

  5. Robert in NYC says

    It always amazes me that some politicians put politics and power before their consciences. These are the people who should never hold elective office and term limits should be mandatory.

    Ricco, I have to agree with you on the BS and hypocrisy when you look at how other western countries have handled or are handling marriage equality. We’re so behind. Social issues are one area where we’re definitely NOT the leader. So much for liberty and justice for all. Not when it comes to LGBT people.

  6. Adam says

    (Typo: Senator Hatfield is from Raymond, not Richmond.)

    I’m writing Rep. Hatfield a letter right now. I’m registered in the most conservative district in Western Washington, so my Senator is voting no. Hatfield’s district borders the one I’m in, so maybe I have some sway :). Hope he reads it.

    After closely following the marriage equality fights in other states, it’s empowering to be able to do something about it here, in my own home state.

  7. says

    Hatfield illustrates precisely what is wrong with politics in America. He is a coward who is only interested in career politics, and would vote to hang his own mother if it could get him elected. All his whining is about how he can’t gain anything no matter what he does. What about principles? What about the rights of people? Apparently all that takes the back seat if it inconveniences his political career.

  8. says

    If the referendum is going to happen, why wouldn’t Hatfield just vote YES, and then let the referendum (which he prefers) sort it out? Minority rights should not be left up to a popular vote, but at least there’ll be a fighting chance.

    I think these votes will turn YES at the eleventh hour, when it looks certain to pass. The same thing happened with the DADT repeal.

    All this just to protect his phoney baloney job. :(