Advocates of equal civil marriage for lesbian and gay couples make powerful case in Olympia
OLYMPIA – Washington United for Marriage, a broad statewide coalition of organizations, congregations, unions and business associations that will work to obtain civil marriage for lesbian and gay couples in Washington State in 2012, today hailed the Washington State Senate and House for holding hearings on SB 6239 and HB 2516. The proceedings are yet another sign that the momentum for marriage equality in the Evergreen State continues to build.
“Washington United thanks the respective senate and house committees for taking a bold step towards equality today,” said Lacey All, Chair for Washington United for Marriage. “Marriage is about respect, dignity, love and commitment which is exactly what you heard from our testifiers. As families across the state struggle to hold and find jobs, and to keep their families warm and safe, we can take this action to make sure that all families are protected and included in our united social and economic fabrics of society.”
“We can’t believe this day has finally arrived,” said Colonel Grethe Cammermeyer and Diane Divelbesse of Whidbey Island. “We have always considered ourselves to be spouses, and have strived to raise our family just as any other family would do. Now the efforts we’ve made and the love we share can finally be recognized as equal under the eyes of the law and to our family, friends and neighbors. We never thought this could happen in our lifetimes, and now hope abounds that we could finally see and experience true equality as a family.”
The Senate Committee on Government Operations, Tribal Relations and Elections met at 10:00 a.m. to consider the legislation, while the House Committee on the Judiciary followed at 1:30 p.m. Committee votes could be held within days or weeks. The house has 50 sponsors of the bill, enough to comfortably pass the legislation. Following the senate committee hearing, Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen announced her support becoming the 25th and final senator needed to pass the legislation.
“I’m proud of the steps the Senate and House committees took today to advance marriage equality in Washington,” said Sen. Ed Murray, a sponsor of the legislation. “Momentum continues to grow and we’re seeing blossoming support from people of every walk of life. Now is the time for our state and our people to recognize that treating all Washingtonians equally is not only the right thing to do, but it’s the Washington way.”
“Today’s hearings demonstrated how important it is for the legislature to take action on marriage equality this session,” said Rep. Jamie Pedersen, Chair of the House Judiciary Committee. “I was moved by the families and veterans who came forward to share their stories about why our state should allow gay and lesbian couples to marry – and impressed by the broad coalition of faith leaders, businesses and other allies who were willing to testify in support of equality for all Washington families.”
At this time, six states plus the District of Columbia recognize marriage for same-sex couples under state law: Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, and Vermont. Nine states—California, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Washington—provide same-sex couples with access to the state level benefits and responsibilities of marriage, through either civil unions or domestic partnerships. Same-sex couples do not receive federal rights and benefits in any state.
Washington United for Marriage is a coalition of organizations, congregations, unions, and business associations working together to secure civil marriage for loving, committed gay and lesbian couples. To find more information and learn how you can help, visit WashingtonUnitedForMarriage.org. Engage with Washington United for Marriage on social media at Twitter.com/WA4Marriage and at Facebook.com/WashingtonUnited.
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