Washington state senate approves same-sex marriage in 28-21 vote

The Washington State Senate voted 28-21 in favor of extending marriage equality to the state’s gay and lesbian citizens Feb. 1.

The vote was not divided entirely along party lines, with four Republican state senators crossing the aisle to vote in favor of same-sex marriage rights and three Democrats voting “nay” on the bill. The vote followed nearly 90 minutes of debate during which members of each camp voiced their opinions on the bill, culminating with Senator Margarita Prentice (D) saying, “I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m ready to vote…. I think we’ve just about wrapped it up.”

At press time, the House of Representatives was expected to vote on the legislation this week—where it expected that it will pass without issue. State Governor Christine Gregoire has already indicated that, except in case of any significant alterations to the bill, she will sign it into law.

“Now it’s our time, this generation’s call to end discrimination —discrimination against our gay and lesbian citizens. It is time for marriage equality,” Gregoire said in her speech endorsing the bill in January.

The legislation’s opposition, a group of religious and political organizations, has already promised a ballot initiative to repeal the legislation. This would require the petition of over 120,000 Washington state citizens after the bill has been signed into law by Gregoire. The bills opponents would have until early June to gather the necessary signature.

The United States has long been locked in the debate regarding marriage equality. Currently six states allow their LGBT citizens to marry: New York, Massachusetts, Vermont, Connecticut, Iowa, and New Hampshire. The District of Columbia also allows gays and lesbians to wed.

Gay marriage was legal for a time in California, as well. However, Proposition 8 passed in 2008 which amended the state’s constitution to define marriage as between one man and one woman. That proposition was challenged in court shortly thereafter, and was struck down Feb. 7by a Federal Appellate court that cited the law as “unconstitutional”. This decision all but ensures the United States Surpreme court will hear the case.