By Jerry Cornfield
Democratic Sen. Rosemary McAuliffe of Bothell said today she will support a bill to legalize marriage for same-sex couples, moving the Senate to within two votes of passing the legislation.
In a prepared statement, she said:
“For many people, I know this is a very sensitive issue. I have received many letters, emails and phone calls for and against marriage equality legislation. An overwhelming amount of constituents have sided with my own belief, that all Washington citizens deserve the chance to be equal under the law.”
While her decision isn’t a surprise, McAuliffe told reporters earlier this week she was uncommitted.
A survey of all 49 senators by the Associated Press found legalizing gay marriage supported by 22 members and opposed by 18 with nine — including McAuliffe — not yet taking a public position.
A hearing on the Senate bill, which is yet to be introduced, is set for Jan. 23 with action by the committee scheduled for Jan. 26.
Here is McAuliffe’s complete statement:
“The governor recently announced her support of marriage equality. For decades our country has struggled with discrimination in many forms. I am proud that our state has a past of joining together to support equality for women, racial minorities, people with disabilities, and religions. Now is the time to support marriage for all families with the respect and dignity they deserve.
“Separate but equal is yet another form of discrimination. For many people, I know this is a very sensitive issue. I have received many letters, emails and phone calls for and against marriage equality legislation. An overwhelming amount of constituents have sided with my own belief, that all Washington citizens deserve the chance to be equal under the law. We are free to believe whatever we choose, however we must take steps to ensure we live in a state and world where our laws protect human rights for all.
“A main concern I have heard is the right to religious freedom. The proposed marriage equality bill includes an important exemption for religious organizations and clergy to continue to exercise religious freedom.
“In the past, I have supported civil unions, domestic partnerships, and the efforts of Senator Ed Murray to stand up for equality for same sex couples. We as legislators must be vigilant about protecting all of our citizens against discrimination.
“I support marriage equality and have signed my name onto this long overdue legislation to ensure all of our children grow up in a society that truly promotes equality.”