Good news out of Washington state yesterday evening after the state senate passed marriage equality legislation by a 28-21 vote. Supporters announced last week that they had the required 25 votes when Democratic Senator Mary Margaret Haugen declared her support for the bill. The measure passed with bipartisan support and now moves to the House where it is expected to pass easily.
Senate Republicans introduced a series of amendments, which passed, that would ensure protections for religious bodies, churches, and institutions -- including affiliated child adoption and fostering agencies -- that would protect them from charges of bias or discrimination for refusing to sanctify, solemnise, or otherwise embrace same sex marriage.
An amendment to put the legislation on the November ballot was defeated after Sen. Lisa Brown (D-Spokane) reminded colleagues that the purpose of representational democracy was to prevent minorities' civil liberties being infringed and voted on by the majority.
Following the vote, amid cheering Senators, a motion was made without objection to to immediately advance the bill to the state's House of Represenatives for its consideration -- a vote in the House could occur as early as next week.
Governor Chris Gregoire has championed the bill. Couples would be able to wed in June if the bill is signed into law. Opponents have said they will, of course, seek a referendum to overturn the law.