Today, 15 Democrats in the state Senate introduced a bill to make it legal for same-sex couples to wed.
An identical bill will arrive tomorrow in the House signed by 42 members of that chamber.
Under Senate Bill 5793 existing law is changed to define marriage as a civil contract between two persons — striking out the words “a male and a female” who are at least 18 years of age and “are otherwise capable.”
That change follows nearly two pages of introductory language laying out the intent of the law. It concludes:
“No official of any religious denomination or nonprofit institution authorized to solemnize marriages shall be required to solemnize any marriage in violation of his or her right to free exercise of religion guaranteed by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution or by the Washington state Constitution.
“It is the intent of this act to end discrimination in marriage based on gender and sexual orientation in Washington, to ensure that all persons in this state may enjoy the freedom to marry on equal terms, while also respecting the religious freedom rights of clergy and religious institutions to determine for whom to perform marriage ceremonies and which marriages to recognize for religious purposes.”
What are the chances of this passing this year? Probably not too high as the cut-off days are Thursday in the House and Monday in the Senate.
However, don’t be surprised to see it move a little bit in the legislative process. Democrats are the majority and this is an issue which leadership wants advanced slowly and surely.