Momentum grows for marriage in Washington State

Yesterday, dozens of people crowded into a Senate committee meeting in Olympia, Washington for the state’s first public hearings on the freedom to marry. Advocates wore stickers that read “Washington United for Marriage” in support of the coalition of state and national organizations formed in November.

“I have waited 17 years to ask this body to consider marriage equality for gay and lesbian families,” testified Senator Ed Murray, who is sponsoring the Senate bill. “I realize the issue of marriage for our families is emotional and divisive. It touches what each of us holds most dear, our families.”

Following the hearings, the 25th Senate vote needed to ensure passage was secured by Senator Mary Margaret Haugen. The state House is widely considered to have enough support, and Governor Christine Gregoire announced her own support for extending the freedom to marry in Washington in early January.

Numerous polls show that a majority of Washingtonians agree with these leaders. An October poll by the University of Washington shows that 55% of voters would uphold a marriage law if it was brought to referendum—with 47% of those voters feeling “strongly” about their vote. Marriage in Washington has also won the support of many prominent businesses including Microsoft and Nike.

Domestic partnerships were passed in Washington in 2007 and were expanded in 2008 and 2009 to include all of the protections and responsibilities of marriage at the state level. If the current legislation passes, Washington will become the seventh freedom to marry state (joining Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Iowa, and New York, as well as the District of Columbia).

Click here to read more about the work Freedom to Marry and other organizations are doing as part of Washington United for Marriage.