Feb. 8 (Bloomberg) -- Washington lawmakers approved a bill that would grant same-sex couples the right to marry, lacking only the governor’s signature for the state to become the seventh in the U.S. to make the practice legal.
The Washington House of Representatives voted today in favor of the legislation, which has the support of Governor Christine Gregoire, a 64-year-old Democrat.
“Thousands of same-sex couples in our state deserve the respect and protection from our government that only marriage can convey, and our children deserve to grow up in a state that treats their family with equal dignity,” state Representative Jamie Pedersen, a gay Seattle Democrat who sponsored the measure, said ahead of the vote. The Senate passed the measure Feb. 1.
If Gregoire signs the bill, Washington will join New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, New Hampshire, Vermont and the District of Columbia in allowing same-sex weddings. The vote follows a decision yesterday by a federal appeals court in San Francisco that California’s Proposition 8, which defined marriage to be only between a man and a woman, was unconstitutional.
“Marriage is about life,” Representative Jay Rodne, a Republican from North Bend, said during debate on the bill. “It’s about joining that man and that woman as husband and wife and mother and father, linking them with their natural-born children.”
Rodne said the bill severs the cultural, historical and legal underpinnings of marriage, harming families and children.
The law, which would take effect 90 days after the end of the legislative session on March 8, may face a repeal campaign by opponents that would put it on hold pending a referendum, said Karina Shagren, a spokeswoman for Gregoire. To get on the November ballot, petitions would have to be signed by 120,577 registered voters, according Brian Zylstra, a spokesman for Secretary of State Sam Reed.
The legislation allows religious denominations to decide who qualifies for their wedding ceremonies and which marriages to recognize.
--Editors: Pete Young, Ted Bunker
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