Washington passes gay marriage bill

A bill to legalize same-sex marriage in Washington state cleared the Legislature on Feb. 8 and moves the state one step closer to becoming the seventh to recognize gay marriage.

Gov. Christine Gregoire, a Democrat, signed the bill, but opponents have vowed to repeal it at the polls in November.

The bill cleared the House with a 55-43 vote, just a week after it was passed by the Senate and a day after a federal appeals court ruled California’s voter-approved gay marriage ban unconstitutional. Democrats control both legislative bodies, but hold a much more commanding lead in the House. In the House two Republicans joined 53 Democrats in voting for the bill and two Democrats sided with the 41 Republicans. The Senate passed the bill on a 28-21 vote.

The debate over the bill became very personal for the sponsor, Rep. Jamie Pedersen, a gay father of four, who said the state’s domestic partnerships fall short.

“I would like our four children to understand that their daddy and their papa have made that lifelong commitment to each other,” he said. “Thousands of same-sex couples in our state deserve the respect and protection from our government that only marriage can convey.”

Rep. Jay Rodne, a Republican, said his Roman Catholic faith required him to oppose gay marriage. He said the measure was “progressive re-engineering in its most extreme and damaging form.”

“Marriage has been the union of a man and a woman,” Rodne said. “When that union is consummated there is potential for the creation of life. Marriage is about life.”

Six states recognize same-sex marriage — New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire and Iowa and the District of Columbia.

Bills legalizing same-sex marriage are being considered this legislative season in Maryland, New Jersey and Illinois.

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