GOP state senator to support gay marriage in Washington

Senator Steve Litzow is the first Republican from Washington to announce his support for the state’s gay marriage bill.

Here’s what he had to told the Seattle Times about his decision:

“I am a traditional Republican. When you think about gay marriage, it’s the right thing to do and it’s very consistent with the tenets of being a Republican — such as individual freedom and personal responsibility.”

His announcement follows last week’s decision by Gov. Chris Gregoire to introduce and push a law that affords gay and lesbian couples the same rights and benefits of marriage enjoyed by other couples.

If the legislation is approved — and it should be — Washington would become the seventh state in the country to act on this compelling civil-rights issue.

Washington state Republicans push back on marriage equality

Republic lawmakers in Washington state were quick to challenge Gov. Chris Gregoire’s recent push to pass gay marriage, saying it would create an unnecessary distraction.

The Seattle Times reports that Senate Republic Leader Mike Hewitt said the issue would cause problems because Ed Murray, a gay state senator and also the state’s Democratic budget negotiator, was “vested in this personally.”

Gregoire disputed claims that the state wouldn’t have time to address gay marriage during the upcoming legislative session, which begins Monday.

“To those who say we don’t have the time, what will history say when we say, ‘Sorry, we had a budget to pass, so we continued to discriminate.’ That answer does not work,” Gregoire said after a panel on the issue. “This is our test. This is what leadership is about. Now is our time.”

Gov. Gregoire proposes legislation to legalize gay marriage

Gov. Chris Gregoire of Washington state announced on Wednesday she’ll put forward legislation to legalize marriage for gay and lesbian couples.

The proposal will be introduced during the legislative session that starts Monday. If it’s approved, Washington would become the seventh state to legalize gay marriage.

“It’s time, it’s the right thing to do, and I will introduce a bill to do it,” Gregoire said. “I say that as a wife, a mother, a student of the law, and above all as a Washingtonian with a lifelong commitment to equality and freedom. Some say domestic partnerships are the same as marriage. That’s a version of the discriminatory ‘separate but equal’ argument.”

“Our gay and lesbian families face the same hurdles as heterosexual families — making ends meet, choosing what school to send their kids to, finding someone to grow old with, standing in front of friends and family and making a lifetime commitment,” Gregoire said. “For all couples, a state marriage license is very important. It gives them the right to enter into a marriage contract in which their legal interests, and those of their children if any, are protected by well-established civil law.”

Currently, gay marriage is legal in New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, Iowa and the District of Columbia, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Watch her announcement below:

Washington State to pursue marriage equality in 2012

From ThinkProgress: In 2009, Washington voters approved an “everything but marriage” same-sex domestic partnership law, but this year activists are ready to “take the final step” and pass full marriage equality.

A new coalition of civil rights groups called Washington United for Marriage launches this week to encourage state legislators to approve same-sex marriage legislation.

A group of Democratic lawmakers has committed to introducing and advancing the legislation and Democrats have majorities in both chambers. Nevertheless, a difficult budget and some socially conservative Democrats still present a challenge to the bill’s advancement.

Click here to find out more about Washington United for Marriage

Washington State legislature votes to recognize out of state same-sex couples legal status

The Washington state senate passed it’s last hurdle in recognizing out-of-state same-sex marriages and domestic partnerships.

From the Seattle Times: The Washington Legislature has approved a measure that recognizes out-of-state domestic partnerships.

On a 28-19 vote, the Senate cleared the last hurdle for the bill. It now heads to Gov. Chris Gregoire’s desk. Under the measure, gay marriages performed elsewhere would be recognized as domestic partnerships here, as well as domestic partnerships performed in other states.

At this time, five states and the District of Columbia allow same-sex marriages. Washington is the fourth state to approve a bill recognizing same-sex couples from other states, following Rhode Island, New York and Maryland.

The measure enjoyed wide support among Democrats. It passed the House 58-39, mostly on party-line votes.