Washington State has secured enough votes in the Senate to become the seventh state in the country to legalize same-sex marriage. Sen. Margaret Haugen, a Democrat, said she will be the 25th vote to push the gay marriage bill out of the state Senate. The House already has enough support for the bill to pass easily and Gov. Chris Gregoire has been very public about her support for gay marriage and promised to sign the bill.
Washington is set to join New York, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Iowa, Connecticut and Vermont. The District of Columbia also allows same-sex marriage.
“I know this announcement makes me the so-called 25th vote, the vote that ensures passage,” Haugen said in a statement.
Haugen said she had to take time “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.”
The bill was debated in a committee hearing on Jan. 23 and dozens of people attended to protest, and support, its passage.
“I have waited 17 years to ask this body to consider marriage equality for gay and lesbian families,” said openly gay Democratic Sen. Ed Murray. “I realize the issue of marriage for our families is emotional and divisive. It touches what each of us holds most dear, our families.”
The anti-gay National Organization for Marriage has pledged to use $250,000 to fight the measure and promised to fight to remove any legislator who supported the bill, especially the Republicans who crossed typical party lines and voiced their support. However, its resources are likely to be stretched thin as the Maryland and New Jersey legislatures also consider similar bills.