By Jerry Cornfield
A bill to make marriage legal for gay and lesbian couples was filed today in the state Senate.
Twenty-three senators — 21 Democrats and two Republicans – signed on as sponsors of Senate Bill 6239. And the order of their names is interesting and probably intended to send a message to undecided colleagues.
As expected, Sen. Ed Murray, D-Seattle, is the prime sponsor and his name is first.
He’s followed by Republican Sen. Cheryl Pflug of Maple Valley, conservative Democratic Sen. Steve Hobbs of Lake Stevens and Republican Sen. Steve Litzow of Mercer Island.
Here is the press release put out by Murray:
OLYMPIA – Sen. Ed Murray, D-Seattle, today announced he has introduced a bill that will provide marriage equality to gay and lesbian couples in Washington state. The legislation, Senate Bill 6239, was sponsored by 23 senators, including members of both parties, and was requested by Gov. Chris Gregoire.
“I am honored to introduce this legislation, to have the support of the governor and so many of my colleagues, and most of all to do my part in ending discrimination against Washington families,” said Sen. Murray. “We cannot be assured our bill will pass, but we’re closer than ever to our shared goal of greater justice.”
The bill would allow couples, regardless of their genders, to receive state marriage licenses. It includes protections for religious freedoms, allowing churches and their clergy to make their own decisions regarding whom to marry.
“All people deserve dignity and respect, and the bill we introduced today will offer equality to committed couples while acknowledging the deeply held beliefs of people of different faiths, traditions and viewpoints,” Murray said.
Murray has championed civil rights legislation for gays and lesbians throughout his time in the Legislature, including the creation of domestic partnerships for same-sex couples. The partnerships were afforded greater legal rights under the state’s “everything but marriage” law, but same-sex couples still cannot receive a marriage license – keeping them in a category separate from other families, both socially and legally.
“Saying ‘We’re domestic partners’ is about legal rights. Lesbian and gay couples, many with children, many who have been together for years, want to say, ‘We’re married.’ Because that’s the only word that describes their love, commitment and dedication to family,” Murray said