Washington State Has The Votes to Pass Marriage Equality Bill

Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen statement on Senate Bill 6239 to allow same-sex marriage, issued after today's hearing:

"For several weeks now, I have heard from the people of my district. They've shared what's in their hearts and minds.

"I have received many letters, emails, phone calls, very heartfelt, from both sides of the issue. I've also received a number of very negative comments from both sides.

"For some people, this is a simple issue. I envy them. It has not been simple or easy for me.

"To some degree, this is generational. Years ago I took exception to my parents' beliefs on certain social issues, and today my children take exception to some of mine. Times change, even if it makes us uncomfortable. I think we should all be uncomfortable sometime. None of us knows everything, and it's important to have our beliefs questioned. Only one being in this world is omniscient, and it's not me.

"I have very strong Christian beliefs, and personally I have always said when I accepted the Lord, I became more tolerant of others. I stopped judging people and try to live by the Golden Rule. This is part of my decision. I do not believe it is my role to judge others, regardless of my personal beliefs. It's not always easy to do that. For me personally, I have always believed in traditional marriage between a man and a woman. That is what I believe, to this day.

"But this issue isn't about just what I believe. It's about respecting others, including people who may believe differently than I. It's about whether everyone has the same opportunities for love and companionship and family and security that I have enjoyed.
"For as long as I have been alive, living in my country has been about having the freedom to live according to our own personal and religious beliefs, and having people respect that freedom.

"Not everyone will agree with my position. I understand and respect that. I also trust that people will remember that we need to respect each other's beliefs. All of us enjoy the benefits of being Americans, but none of us holds a monopoly on what it means to be an American. Ours is truly a big tent, and while the tent may grow and shrink according to the political winds of the day, it should never shrink when it comes to our rights as individuals.

"Do I respect people who feel differently? Do I not feel they should have the right to do as they want? My beliefs dictate who I am and how I live, but I don't see where my believing marriage is between a man and a woman gives me the right to decide that for everyone else.

"I've weighed many factors in arriving at this decision, and one of them was erased when the legislation heard today included an amendment to clearly provide for the rights of a church to choose not to marry a couple if that marriage contradicts the church's view of its teachings. That's important, and it helped shape my decision.

"My preference would be to put this issue on the ballot and give all Washingtonians the opportunity to wrestle with this issue, to search their hearts as I have, and to make the choice for themselves. But I do not know that there are the votes to put it to a ballot measure. So, forced to make a choice, my choice is to allow all men and women in our state to enjoy the same privileges that are so important in my life. I will vote in favor of marriage equality.

"I know this announcement makes me the so-called 25th vote, the vote that ensures passage. That's neither here nor there. If I were the first or the seventh or the 28th vote, my position would not be any different. I happen to be the 25th because I insisted on taking this much time to hear from my constituents and to sort it out for myself, to reconcile my religious beliefs with my beliefs as an American, as a legislator, and as a wife and mother who cannot deny to others the joys and benefits I enjoy.

"This is the right vote and it is the vote I will cast when this measure comes to the floor."


  1. Dan says

    an intelligent well-thought out woman who can look beyond her own views and see what is right and true. She is to be commended and kept safe when NOM and all the haters comes a knocking.

  2. KP says

    That’ll do Washington, that’ll do. Great news for our brothers and sisters in The Evergreen State!

  3. says

    Her statement is one of the most reasonable and human I’ve read on the subject- she obviously took this seriously, went past the rhetoric and used that most amazing tool of humanity- the conscience.

  4. Jeff says

    She sounds like a great lady and the epitome of a real Christian, but I wonder if she would have liked for all Washingtonians to have voted on repealing anti-miscegenation laws or those that afforded women the right to vote…

  5. IAN F says

    “My beliefs dictate who I am and how I live, but I don’t see where my believing marriage is between a man and a woman gives me the right to decide that for everyone else.”

    It’s really this simple.

    Happy for my friends in Seattle who have been waiting to get married for years.

  6. says

    While I oppose subjecting civil rights to the whims of voter opinion and, often, ignorance, bravo to Sen. Haugen to have the integrity, wisdom, and conscience to put some personal discomfort and misgivings aside to do the right thing. As time goes on there are likely to be more and more people like her, and less and less people like Maggie and her NOM friends and the right-wing zealots. They’re losing. Way to go, Washington!

  7. Brian says

    As a Washingtonian who just moved to Oregon… I am ecstatic… The only downside is that it will almost for sure come up for a vote this fall… But polls are definitely in our favor!!!

  8. Bryan B. says

    I genuinely hope marriage equality passes in WA, and that it survives the inevitable popular vote.

    Yet at the same time whenever I see another state join the movement for full equality I cannot help but be reminded at how behind CA is, and how stupid prop 8 was.

    Anyway, good luck to WA and get your act together CA!

  9. searunner says

    We in Washington will be working our asses off to ensure a legislative victory for marriage equality survives a vote by the public.

  10. says

    I’m a long, long time lurker on this site (this is my first comment ever) who probably differs from most of the readership in being female, Christian, and straight. I just want to stand up and applaud Senator Haugen for modeling what an actual Christian is supposed to look like. I personally support full marriage equality, but I respect her more for saying that while she values traditional marriage, she can see beyond the end of her nose and realize that this is a beautiful and empowering necessity for ALL families in Washington State, not just those who fit her demographic.

    And @ Paul R above: Your comment inspired me to write an entry on my personal blog dealing with this subject. Click on my name if you’re interested in reading it.

    Blessings to all!