Washington may soon be the seventh state to legalize gay marriage
It looks like the marriage equality legislation will soon be signed by the governor of the state of Washington:
OLYMPIA — In the end, it wasn’t even close.
After more than a decade of laying the ground work and fretting that the votes would be just out of reach, state Sen. Ed Murray watched Wednesday night as the Senate easily passed legislation that would legalize gay marriage.
The vote was 28-21.
“For a lot of people in my age group, this is a stunning event,” said Murray, the prime sponsor of the bill. “It’s something we did not believe would happen in our lifetime.”
While it wasn’t final passage, the Senate always has been viewed as the biggest hurdle for same-sex marriage legislation, as it was for gay-rights bills in previous years.
The measure now heads to the House, where supporters say they have more than enough votes. It’s expected to pass as early as next week. The governor strongly supports the bill as well.
Murray, a Seattle Democrat, and his longtime partner, Michael Shiosaki, actually held a celebratory news conference before the Senate went into session.
Gay-marriage supporters packed the Senate galleries, and they burst into applause when the vote tally was announced.
After the measure is signed, one hurdle will still remain, a possible referendum vote on the November ballot:
Gay-marriage opponents have promised to challenge any same-sex marriage law at the ballot. A referendum cannot be filed before the governor signs the legislation.
Under state law, opponents have 90 days from the end of the session to collect 120,577 signatures to put a referendum on the ballot. The regular session ends March 8.
If opponents aren’t able to collect enough signatures, gay and lesbian couples would be able to be wed starting in June. Otherwise, they would have to wait until the results of a November election.