Thursday, February 23, 2012

Gov. Christie vetoes N.J. gay marriage bill

MaryAnn Spoto/The Star-Ledger 02/17/2012 5:31 PM

TRENTON — Delivering on his promise of swift action, Gov. Chris Christie this afternoon conditionally vetoed the gay marriage bill and suggested appointing an ombudsman to address complaints of same-sex couples and strengthen New Jersey’s civil union law.

Christie conditionally vetoed the bill six hours after it reached his desk, a day after the state Assembly gave the final legislative approval that he said he would not support.

"I have been just as adamant that same-sex couples in a civil union deserve the very same rights and benefits enjoyed by married couples — as well as the strict enforcement of those rights and benefits,’’ Christie said in a prepared statement.

"Discrimination should not be tolerated and any complaint alleging a violation of a citizen’s right should be investigated and, if appropriate, remedied."

His action was not the outright veto gay marriage proponents had expected, but still equally unwelcome.

"Thousands and thousands of New Jersey families are denied financial security, health security and fundamental equal rights every day because of a failed civil union experiment,’’ said Assembly Majority Leader Louis Greenwald (D-Bergen). "And yet in spite of their second-class citizenship, the governor singlehandedly — through the stroke of his pen — seeks to codify discrimination against them.’’

Christie continued push his suggestion of the gay marriage issue to a referendum in November to allow New Jersey voters to decide. Republicans fell in line with his recommendation; not a single Republican present on Thursday voted for the gay marriage bill.

Two years after voting the bill down, the Senate on Monday passed the measure 24-16, with two Republicans crossing the aisle.

The veto ends legislative action for now. Gay rights activists say they will now work to secure enough votes for an override by the noon Jan. 14, 2014, deadline — the end of this legislative session. They’ll need nearly a dozen more votes in the Assembly and a handful in the Senate.

Democrats say they’re hopeful they’ll reach their goal in 1½ years because they won the Senate over and they convinced nearly a dozen Assembly members in recent weeks to get their victory on Thursday.

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AP, February 23, 2012 | 8:58:29 PM (EST)

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Gay marriage is all but legalized in Maryland after the legislature gave its final OK Thursday to the law that's being sent to Gov. Martin O'Malley, who said he expects to sign it sometime this week.

The state Senate voted 25-22 for the law. The vote comes less than a week after the House of Delegates barely passed the measure.

Maryland will become the eighth state to allow gay marriage when O'Malley – who sponsored the bill – signs the legislation. The Democrat made the measure a priority this session after it stalled last year.

"This issue has taken a lot of energy, as well it should, and I'm very proud of the House of Delegates and also the Senate for resolving this issue on the side of human dignity, and I look forward to signing the bill," O'Malley said in a brief interview after the Senate vote.

Opponents, though, have vowed to bring the measure to referendum in November. They will need to gather at least 55,726 valid signatures of Maryland voters to put it on the ballot and can begin collecting names now that the bill has passed both chambers.

Some churches and clergy members have spoken out against the bill, saying it threatens religious freedoms and violates their tradition of defining marriage as between a man and a woman.

"The enormous public outcry that this legislation has generated – voiced by Marylanders that span political, racial, social and religious backgrounds – demonstrates a clear need to take this issue to a vote of the people," Maryland Catholic Conference spokeswoman Kathy Dempsey said in a statement. "Every time this issue has been brought to a statewide vote, the people have upheld traditional marriage."

Leaders at the Human Rights Campaign, a group that joined a coalition of organizations to advocate for the bill, said they expect opponents will gather the required number of signatures.

"There remains a lot of work to do between now and November to make marriage equality a reality in Maryland," Joe Solmonese, HRC president said in a statement released Thursday. "Along with coalition partners, we look forward to educating and engaging voters about what this bill does: It strengthens all Maryland families and protects religious liberty."

Senators rejected some amendments to the legislation Thursday. Proponents warned that amending the bill could kill it because gathering enough support for altered legislation in the House would be difficult.

Last year senators passed a similar measure by 25-21, but the bill died in the House after delegates rescinded their initial support citing concerns that it could violate religious liberties of churches and business owners who do not support same-sex unions.

Sen. Allan Kittleman, the only Senate Republican to vote in favor of the legislation, said he is proud of his decision and not concerned about political consequences down the road.

"You don't worry about politics when you're dealing with the civil rights issue of your generation," said Kittleman, R-Howard, the son of the late Sen. Robert Kittleman, who was known for civil rights advocacy.

Christy and Marie Neff, who married in Washington, D.C., where same-sex marriage has been legal since 2010, stood outside the Senate chamber Thursday evening as crowds surrounded O'Malley and other key supporters.

The couple, who lives in Annapolis, has lobbied lawmakers to support the bill in recent years.

"This is our victory and we're going to savor this because you can only really jump one hurdle at a time," Christy Neff said. "So we're going to savor this and then if they bring it to referendum, we'll match that effort with the same sort of effort we did today."

Associated Press Writer Brian Witte contributed to this story.

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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Belated Happy Valentines Day!

Hope everyone was showered with love yesterday by yourself or someone who loves you! Kent and I always keep it simple - this year was dinner and a movie. We saw This Means War with Reese Witherspoon and Chis Pine. We really liked it! This was a preview before it opens on Friday so the theater was packed and the audience had a good time with the movie. There are so many choices and the theaters are so big that it's seldom that you go to a movie that is sold out. It makes a difference sometimes in how enjoyable the movie is.

I finally made my 2012 marathon selections. I had already posted about running Chicago on October 7, 2012.

Yesterday I signed Kent up for the half and myself up for the full Eugene marathon on April 29, 2012.

And we will also run the San Francisco Marathon on July 29th, 2012.

The Eugene Marathon is coming right up. The only one I am doing for time is Chicago. The rest are all training runs that I'll take nice and easy! I may even sneak in the Seattle Rock n Roll Marathon in June since it's been rerouted.

Lots of running to do! Have a great day!


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Monday, February 13, 2012

Schram: Don't derail such a momentous milestone

From KOMO News

OLYMPIA, Wash. -- It's been a long time coming.

Washington is now the 7th state in the nation where same sex marriage is legal.

With a broad stroke of her pen, Gov. Chris Gregoire put her signature to the state legislature's effort of marriage equality.

It becomes law on June 7.

Actually, that's when it should take effect. If opponents have their way, marriage equality will at best be delayed and at worst denied.

120,057 valid voter signatures will create a referendum to challenge the new law. 241,153 valid voter signatures will create an initiative defining marriage as between one man and one woman.

Both measures would then be on the ballot in November, giving the majority control over minority rights.

It's a disaster in the making.

Voters could keep marriage equality by defeating the referendum, and at the same time uphold state statutes that prohibit marriage equality by passing the initiative.

State lawmakers did something momentous.

The governor signed it into law.

In the months ahead we will have to be very careful to keep those who are narrow-minded, spiteful and oh-so-damn crafty, from preventing marriage equality from becoming the reality same sex couples deserve.

Have something to say to Ken? Login or signup below to post a comment. Just be sure to read the rules and keep things civil. You can also e-mail him at You can also hook up with Ken on Facebook.

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Gregoire signs same-sex marriage bill into law

From KOMO News

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) - Gov. Chris Gregoire handed gay rights advocates a major victory Monday, signing into law a measure that legalizes same-sex marriage in Washington state, making it the seventh in the nation to allow gay and lesbian couples to wed.

Gregoire signed the bill surrounded by gay rights supporters. "I'm proud our same-sex couples will no longer be treated as separate but equal," she said.

It's a historic moment for the state, but same-sex couples can't walk down the aisle just yet.

The law takes effect June 7, but opponents on multiple fronts already are preparing to fight.

Opponents planned to file a referendum challenge Monday afternoon that could put the law on hold pending the outcome of a November vote if they turn in enough signatures. Separately, an initiative was filed at the beginning of the session that opponents of gay marriage say could lead to the new law being overturned.

Gay marriage supporters said that while they are ready for a campaign battle, they are allowing themselves to celebrate first.

"You have to relish this moment," said 31-year-old Bret Tiderman of Seattle.

The state reception room at the Capitol was packed with hundreds of gay rights supporters and at least 40 lawmakers from the House and Senate.

Sen. Ed Murray, a Seattle Democrat who is gay and has sponsored gay rights legislation for years, told the cheering crowd: "My friends, welcome to the other side of the rainbow. No matter what the future holds, nothing will take this moment in history away from us."

As the Democratic governor signed the legislation, a man shouted, "Do not betray Christ!" However, his voice was overwhelmed by gay-marriage supporters who cheered and spoke loudly during his outburst.

Bob Struble, 68, of Bremerton, was removed from the room and said he was given a warning by security. Struble said he believes the state will halt gay marriage in a public vote. "We'll be doing everything we can to overturn this unfortunate law," he said.

Audrey Daye, of Olympia, cried as she watched Gregoire sign the bill into law. Daye, who grew up with two moms, brought her 7-year-old son, Orin, with her to watch the bill signing.

"I am so proud that our state is on the right side of history," she said.

Meanwhile, Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum, who opposes gay marriage, was in town speaking with conservative voters. Santorum also planned to meet with Republican lawmakers at the Capitol later Monday.

Gregoire's signature comes nearly a week after a federal appeals court declared California's ban on gay marriage unconstitutional, saying it was a violation of the civil rights of gay and lesbian couples.

A three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals gave gay marriage opponents time to appeal the 2-1 decision against Proposition 8 before ordering the state to allow same-sex weddings to resume. The judges also said the decision only applies to California, even though the court has jurisdiction in nine Western states.

Washington state has had domestic partnership laws since 2007, and in 2009 passed an "everything but marriage" expansion of that law, which was ultimately upheld by voters after a referendum challenge.

Opponents said they would file a ballot challenge after Gregoire signed the measure that would require voters in November to either uphold or overturn the law. If the referendum gets enough signatures by June 6 the law is put on hold pending the outcome of a November vote.

"I think in the end, people are going to preserve marriage," said Joe Fuiten, senior pastor at Cedar Park Church in Bothell who is involved in the referendum effort.

Separately, an anti-gay marriage initiative was filed at the beginning of the session, but the language is still being worked out so no signatures have been collected yet. An initiative alone would not pause the law.

Gay marriage is legal in New York, Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and Washington, D.C.

Same-sex marriage also has the backing of several prominent Pacific Northwest businesses, including Microsoft Corp., Nike Inc. and Starbucks Corp.

The New Jersey Senate advanced a gay marriage bill Monday, and a vote is expected in the N.J. Assembly on Thursday. N.J. Gov. Chris Christie, who is pushing for a public vote on the issue, says he'll veto the bill if it comes to his desk.

Legislative committees in Maryland heard testimony on gay marriage last week, and Maine could see a gay marriage proposal on the November ballot.

Proposed amendments to ban gay marriage will be on the ballots in North Carolina in May and in Minnesota in November.

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Thursday, February 9, 2012

Gregoire to sign same-sex marriage bill on Monday

Posted by Cathy McLain on February 9, 2012 at 7:17 PM
Associated Press

Gov. Chris Gregoire will sign a measure legalizing gay marriage in Washington state into law on Monday.

The House passed the bill on a 55-43 vote on Wednesday. The Senate approved the measure last week. Gregoire will sign the bill at 11:30 a.m. Monday.

The law would take effect 90 days after the session ends next month, but opponents have promised to fight back with a ballot measure that would allow voters to overturn it.

If opponents gather enough signatures to take their fight to the ballot, the law is put on hold pending the outcome of a November election. They must turn in more than 120,000 signatures by June 6 to challenge the proposed law. An anti-gay marriage initiative has also been filed. To qualify, 241,153 signatures must be submitted by July 6.

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Anti-gay church to protest Powell boys' memorial service

These people are the craziest most disgusting excuses for human beings. The sad thing is that although this particular group of "Christians" are willing to get there message out in such an inappropriate manner - they really at the heart of it, no different than other so called "Christians" when it comes to their willingness to be mean and cruel. I admire Christians who are inclusive, nonjudgmental, and work to make the world a better place. We could use more of them in this world.

From KOMO News

2/9/12 9:44 AM

TACOMA, Wash. - A rabidly anti-gay church known for its loud protests is planning to picket Saturday's funeral for the two sons of missing mom Susan Powell, who died in a raging house fire Sunday.

Margie Phelps of the Topeka, Kan.-based Westboro Baptist Church sent out a tweet saying the church will attend the boys' memorial service as a protest against the pending legalization of gay marriage in Washington state.

The two boys, Charlie and Braden Powell, were killed Sunday in a gasoline-fueled house fire set by their father Josh Powell after they arrived for a supervised visit. Powell himself also died in the inferno.

Alina Powell, Josh Powell's sister, called the church's planned protest "a horrible, disdainful act that serves no purpose other than to continue the years-long objectification of those little boys."

In an email message, Alina Powell said:

"Charlie and Braden were not trophies to be won and paraded around, they were not bait to ferret out 'guilt' in a man, they were not 'evidence' in a 'crime' and they most certainly are not political pawns to be used by a church to spread yet more messages of hate! They are only little boys and they deserve better! I am LIVID that my nephews continue to be used as a tactical maneuver, and I am LIVID that their service will be besmirched by an event a loving God would never approve! Please let my nephews rest in peace!! Hate has taken far too great a toll on us ALL already!"

But Phelps says Westboro church members to go ahead with the protest, to publicize their opposition to gay marriage.

In a later tweet about the pending legalization of same-sex marriage in Washington state, Phelps wrote, "This is why God's cursed you w Josh Powells blowing up kids."

The state Legislature passed a law this month allowing same-sex couples to marry, and Gov. Chris Gregoire is expected to sign the measure into law after it lands on her desk next week.

A memorial service for the two Powell boys, aged 5 and 7, is scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday at Life Center Church in Tacoma.

The boys died Sunday after a caseworker brought them for a supervised visit at the home of their father, Josh Powell.

Powell locked the caseworker out of the home, then attacked his sons with a hatchet before igniting an inferno that burned the house to the ground, killing all three of them.

The sudden and tragic development was the latest in a dizzying series of twists in the case of missing mom Susan Powell, who disappeared in December 2009.

Josh Powell was the only publicly named person of interest in her disappearance, and had earlier lost custody of his two sons.

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Wednesday, February 8, 2012

FAQ: How a gay marriage referendum would work

FAQ: How a gay marriage referendum would work

by KING 5 News

The Washington state Legislature is expected to pass same-sex marriage Wednesday afternoon, but steps have already been taken by opponents to put a referendum on the November ballot to give voters the final say.

The Washington state Secretary of State website has posted an FAQ about whether the same-sex marriage law would go into effect before a public vote and how the referendum process would work.

Q. When would the legislation ordinarily take effect?
A. 90 days after adjournment of the regular session, or June 7 this year.

Q. When can a referendum be filed?
A. After Gov. Chris Gregoire has taken action on the bill. She has five working days to act, once the bill is actually delivered to her desk. She has said she will sign the bill, although it is possible she could veto sections or amendments that were attached. The referendum must include the text of the bill as passed by the Legislature and acted upon by the governor.

Q. How long does it take for a referendum to be processed and ready for signature-gathering?
A. Roughly three weeks. The measure is sent to the Attorney General’s Office for preparation of a ballot title, concise description and ballot summary. The AG has five working days to complete this. Within five working days, anyone dissatisfied with the ballot title or summary may petition the Thurston County Superior Court for changes. The court is required to “expeditiously review” the request(s) and render a decision within five days. The decision of the court is final. After that, sponsors can print petitions and begin collecting signatures.

Q. What is the deadline for turning in signatures?
A. June 6.

Q. How many signatures are required?
A. The bare minimum is 120,577, or 4 percent of all votes cast in the 2008 election for governor. The state Elections Division suggests turning in 150,000 or more, to cover invalid and duplicate signatures. The average error rate is 18 percent.

Q. How long does the signature check take?
A. If sponsors submit a large enough pad, a random sample can be completed in about two weeks; a full every-signature check can take a month. Crews will be checking to make sure the signer is a properly registered Washington voter, that the signature matches the one on file, and that the person didn’t sign more than once. Both sides are welcome to have a small number of observers whenever the signature-verification is underway.

Q. What happens to the gay-marriage law in the meantime?
A. The filing of the signatures suspends the effective date. If the signature-verification process shows an insufficient number of signatures, then the law goes into effect right away. If the referendum is qualified for the ballot, then the law remains on hold until the voters make their decision in November and the General Election results are certified on Dec. 6.

Q. Is there a “window” in which same-sex couples can marry, between the bill being approved by the Legislature and governor and a vote in November?
A. No.

Q. What is the question posed to voters by the referendum?
A. The referendum places the text of the bill before them. An affirmative vote is to uphold the law as it passed the Legislature and was signed by the governor. A vote to reject wipes out the measure and it does not take effect. As with the 2009 vote on Referendum 71, the “everything but marriage” law, the sponsors who mount the effort to get the measure on the ballot will be asking for a “reject” vote on their referendum. Bottom line: a vote to “approve” upholds the new law, a vote to “reject” abolishes the bill.

Q. Does the referendum require a simple majority or a supermajority?
A. A referendum takes a simple majority to pass.

Q. Where can I get more details about the process?
A. WA Secretary State website.

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Gay-marriage bill passes House, awaits Gregoire's signature

On to the Governor! It's a big day here in Washington State!

The state House on Wednesday approved legislation legalizing gay marriage, voting 55-43. The bill now goes to Gov. Chris Gregoire for her signature.

By Andrew Garber
Seattle Times Olympia bureau

OLYMPIA — Legislation legalizing gay marriage is on its way to the governor after passing the state House by a 55-43 vote.
Gov. Chris Gregoire, who supports the measure and watched as lawmakers voted, has five days to sign it after the bill arrives. She hasn't set a date yet.
There was never any doubt the legislation would be approved in the House. More than 50 lawmakers announced support for the bill before it came up for a vote.
The biggest hurdle was the state Senate, which has conservative Democrats opposed to the measure. Even there, it passed last week with a 28-21 vote.
Lawmakers in the House debated the measure for more than two hours, although as Rep. Jay Rodne, R-North Bend, noted early on, "This bill is going to pass. It's a foregone conclusion."
Supporters of the legislation argued it's a matter of civil rights for gay and lesbian couples.
"Marriage is the word our society uses to describe committed lifelong relationships," said Rep. Jamie Pedersen, D-Seattle, a gay lawmaker who helped lead efforts to push the bill through the Legislature.
"I would like for our four children ... to grow up understanding that their daddy and papa have made the kind of lifelong commitment to each other," Pedersen said. "Marriage is the word we use in our society to convey that idea."
Rodne, who opposed the measure, argued gay marriage is not an issue of civil rights.
"Marriage has been the union of a man and a woman," he said. "When that union is consummated there is potential for the creation of life. Marriage is about life."
Gay-marriage supporters packed the House galleries and burst into applause when the vote tally was announced.
Washington would become the seventh state to legalize gay marriage, depending on the outcome of a threatened referendum challenge by gay-marriage opponents.
Gay-marriage opponents have promised to challenge any same-sex marriage law at the ballot. A referendum cannot be filed until the governor signs the legislation.
Andrew Garber: 360-236-8267 or

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California gay-marriage ruling may affect Washington

A federal appeals court Tuesday struck down Proposition 8, finding California's ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional because it...

By Howard Mintz

SAN FRANCISCO — A federal appeals court Tuesday struck down Proposition 8, finding California's ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional because it deprives gay and lesbian couples of the equal right to wed.

In a decision that pushes the gay-marriage issue a step closer to the Supreme Court and could have ramifications in Washington state, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld former U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker, who invalidated Proposition 8 in 2010 after conducting an unprecedented trial.

"Proposition 8 serves no purpose, and has no effect, other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians in California, and to officially reclassify their relationships and families as inferior to those of opposite-sex couples," wrote Judge Stephen Reinhardt, who was joined by Judge Michael Daly Hawkins.

Judge N. Randy Smith dissented, saying there were "legitimate governmental interests" in restricting the definition of marriage to a union between a man and woman.

Proposition 8 backers now can ask the 9th Circuit to rehear the case with an 11-judge panel or proceed directly to the Supreme Court. Smith's dissent could be a strong indicator there will be some support within the court to take a second look at the case.

The appeals court also rejected the argument that Walker's ruling should be scrapped because he did not disclose he was in a long-term same-sex relationship while he was handling the case. Smith joined in that part of the ruling.

As a result of the continued legal wrangling, same-sex marriages are not expected to resume in California soon, with further appeals likely to stretch at least into next year.

Washington state vote

The ruling comes as the Washington Legislature is preparing to approve legislation that would make this state the seventh in the country to legalize same-sex marriage.

Opponents have said they are prepared to mount a referendum campaign to put the measure before voters in November.

Seattle-area attorneys say the Proposition 8 ruling, if upheld, could have implications for referenda and initiatives in states such as Washington, particularly within the 9th Circuit.

Peter Nicolas, a University of Washington law professor, said any repeal of the Washington law could be challenged by a gay couple, based on the 9th Circuit ruling.

"The odds of applying the 9th Circuit decision, as written, to a Washington scenario, assuming it stands on appeal, are certainly likely," Nicolas said.

In the Proposition 8 ruling, Reinhardt, considered one of the nation's most liberal judges, relied heavily on the Supreme Court's 1996 decision striking down a Colorado law that stripped gays and lesbians of protections against discrimination there.

No fundamental right

Tuesday's ruling, however, was focused on California's circumstances, notably the fact Proposition 8 took away the right of same-sex couples to marry that had been established in a 2008 California Supreme Court decision.

The 9th Circuit did not declare a fundamental right for same-sex couples to marry, a broader definition that could have undercut bans on gay marriage in four other Western states.

Gay-marriage advocates cheered the ruling. California Attorney General Kamala Harris called the decision a "victory for fairness." And California Gov. Jerry Brown issued a statement saying the ruling is "a powerful affirmation of the right of same-sex couples to marry."

The appeals court's ruling marks another setback for gay-marriage foes, who passed Proposition 8 in 2008 by 52 percent to 48 percent.

"No court should presume to redefine marriage," said Brian Raum, senior counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund. "We are not surprised that this Hollywood-orchestrated attack on marriage — tried in San Francisco — turned out this way. But we are confident that the expressed will of the American people in favor of marriage will be upheld in the Supreme Court."

Proposition 8 restored California's gay-marriage ban, trumping a 2008 state Supreme Court ruling that had invalidated California's prior laws forbidding same-sex nuptials.

Backed by gay-rights advocates and the city of San Francisco, two gay couples sued to overturn Proposition 8 in 2009, openly describing the case as an opportunity to force the U.S. Supreme Court to take on the issue.

Kristin Perry and Sandy Stier, a Berkeley, Calif., couple, signed on to the lawsuit, which was crafted by two of the nation's top lawyers, David Boies and former Solicitor General Theodore Olson.

The legal challenge has not affected the roughly 18,000 couples who married in the window of time before California voters restored the gay-marriage ban, creating a two-tiered system of relationships for gay and lesbian couples in the state. Gay-rights advocates argued the circumstances underscored the legal weakness in outlawing same-sex marriage, but Proposition 8 supporters disagreed, saying the state's strong domestic-partner protections are sufficient.

Lawyers for same-sex couples relied primarily on the argument that Proposition 8 violates federal equal-protection rights, saying the law has no social or legal basis other than a discriminatory intent against gays and lesbians. Proposition 8 supporters argued voters had an interest in preserving the traditional definition of marriage and its importance in procreation.

The 9th Circuit heard legal arguments in December 2010 but delayed a decision to let the California Supreme Court decide whether Proposition 8 supporters have a legal right to defend the law when the state's top elected officials refuse to do so.

The state Supreme Court ruled last year that Proposition 8 backers do have that right, returning the case to the 9th Circuit.

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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Appeals court throws out same-sex marriage ban

It's becoming more and more obvious that there is no legitimate
legal argument to defend the bias against marriage equality!

Same-sex marriage moved one step closer to the Supreme Court on Tuesday when a federal appeals court ruled California's ban unconstitutional, saying it serves no purpose other than to "lessen the status and human dignity" of gays.

Associated Press

Same-sex marriage moved one step closer to the Supreme Court on Tuesday when a federal appeals court ruled California's ban unconstitutional, saying it serves no purpose other than to "lessen the status and human dignity" of gays.

A three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals gave gay marriage opponents time to appeal the 2-1 decision before ordering the state to allow same-sex weddings to resume.
"I'm ecstatic. I recognize that we have a ways to go yet. We may have one or two more legal steps," said Jane Leyland, who was gathered with a small crowd outside the federal courthouse in downtown San Francisco, cheering as they learned of the ruling.

Leyland married her longtime partner, Terry Gilb, during the five-month window when same-sex marriage was legal in California.
"But when we first got together, I would have never dreamed in a million years that we would be allowed to be legally married, and here we are."

The ban known as Proposition 8 was approved by voters in 2008 with 52 percent of the vote. The court said it was unconstitutional because it singled out a minority group for disparate treatment for no compelling reason.

The justices concluded that the law had no purpose other than to deny gay couples marriage, since California already grants them all the rights and benefits of marriage if they register as domestic partners.
"Had Marilyn Monroe's film been called `How to Register a Domestic Partnership with a Millionaire,' it would not have conveyed the same meaning as did her famous movie, even though the underlying drama for same-sex couples is no different," the court said.
The lone dissenting judge insisted that the ban could help ensure that children are raised by married, opposite-sex parents.
The appeals court focused its decision exclusively on California's ban, not the bigger debate, even though the court has jurisdiction in nine Western states.

Whether same-sex couples may ever be denied the right to marry "is an important and highly controversial question," the court said. "We need not and do not answer the broader question in this case."

Six states allow gay couples to wed - Connecticut, New Hampshire, Iowa, Massachusetts, New York and Vermont, as well as the District of Columbia. California, as the nation's most populous state and home to more than 98,000 same-sex couples, would be the gay rights movement's biggest prize of them all.

The 9th Circuit concluded that a trial-court judge had correctly interpreted the Constitution and Supreme Court precedents when he threw out Proposition 8.
The measure "serves no purpose, and has no effect, other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians in California, and to officially reclassify their relationships and families as inferior to those of opposite-sex couples," Judge Stephen Reinhardt, one of the court's most liberal judges, wrote in the 2-1 opinion.

Opponents of gay marriage planned to ask the Supreme Court to overturn the ruling, which came more than a year after the appeals court panel heard arguments in the case.
"We are not surprised that this Hollywood-orchestrated attack on marriage - tried in San Francisco - turned out this way. But we are confident that the expressed will of the American people in favor of marriage will be upheld at the Supreme Court," said Brian Raum, senior counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian legal aid group based in Arizona that helped defend Proposition 8.

Legal analysts questioned whether the Supreme Court would agree to take the case because of the narrow scope of the ruling. California is the only state to grant gays the right to marry and rescind it.

Douglas NeJaime, an associate professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, said the Ninth Circuit's narrow decision would allow the Supreme Court to uphold the measure without ruling "on marriage for same-sex couples on a national scale."
"In effect, the Ninth Circuit's decision allows the Supreme Court to continue the incremental, case-by-case trajectory of marriage for same-sex couples in the United States," NeJaime said in an email.

Weddings appeared unlikely to resume anytime soon. The ruling will not take effect until the deadline passes in two weeks for Proposition 8's backers to appeal to a larger panel of the 9th Circuit. Lawyers for the coalition of conservative religious groups that sponsored the measure said they have not decided if they will seek a 9th Circuit rehearing or file an appeal directly to the Supreme Court.

The panel also said there was no evidence that former Chief U.S. Judge Vaughn Walker was biased and should have disclosed that he was gay and in a long-term relationship with another man.
Proposition 8 backers had asked the 9th Circuit to set aside Walker's ruling on constitutional grounds and because of the judge's personal life. It was the first instance of an American jurist's sexual orientation being cited as grounds for overturning a court decision.

Walker publicly revealed he was gay after he retired. Supporters of the gay marriage ban argued that he had been obliged to previously reveal if he wanted to marry his partner. The 9th Circuit held a hearing on the conflict-of-interest question in December.

In its ruling Tuesday, the panel majority said it was unreasonable to presume a judge cannot apply the law impartially just because he is a member of the minority group at issue in a case.
"To hold otherwise would demonstrate a lack of respect for the integrity of our federal courts," the opinion said.
Reihardt, who was appointed to the appeals court by President Jimmy Carter, was joined in the majority opinion by Judge Michael Hawkins, an appointee of President Bill Clinton.
Judge Randy Smith, who was appointed by President George W. Bush, dissented, saying he disagreed that Proposition 8 served no purpose other than to treat gays and lesbians as second-class citizens.

Smith said Proposition 8 could serve to promote responsible child-rearing among opposite-sex couples, adding that even if those beliefs were flawed, they would be enough to make the measure constitutional.

Voters passed Proposition 8 five months after the state Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage by striking down a pair of laws that had limited marriage to a man and a woman.
The ballot measure added the one man-one woman provision into the California Constitution, thereby overruling the court's decision. Its passage followed the most expensive campaign on a social issue in the nation's history.

An estimated 18,000 couples tied the knot during the window before Proposition 8 took effect. The California Supreme Court upheld those marriages but ruled that voters had properly enacted the law.

Gov. Jerry Brown, in his previous role as attorney general, and former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger refused to defend Proposition 8 in court and left it to the ballot measure's sponsors to appeal Walker's decision to the 9th Circuit.
Associated Press writers Paul Elias, Garance Burke and Terence Chea in San Francisco and Raquel Dillon in Los Angeles contributed to this report.

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Gay marriage legislation clears House Judiciary Committee

From the Seattle Times

Posted by Andrew Garner

Legislation legalizing same-sex marriage cleared the House Judiciary Committee on Monday by a 7-to-5 vote.

Senate Bill 6239 is expected to go to a House floor vote Wednesday, for final passage.

House supporters say they have more than enough votes to approve the measure. Gov. Chris Gregoire supports the bill as well.
The measure passed the Senate last week. Opponents of the bill have promised a referendum ballot challenge if it makes it into law.

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Monday, February 6, 2012

Same-sex marriage could boost wedding business

From Sunday's Seattle Times

Legalizing same-sex marriage could generate $88 million in additional wedding and tourism spending in Washington, a study finds.

Legalizing same-sex marriage would generate as much as $88 million in additional wedding and tourism spending in Washington, according to a study by UCLA Law School's Williams Institute.
The institute, which studies issues related to sexual orientation and gender identity, based its estimate on census data, economic-impact figures and the experiences of other states that have legalized same-sex marriage, most notably Massachusetts.
The same-sex marriage bill passed Wednesday by the state Senate is expected to win House approval within days and be signed quickly by Gov. Chris Gregoire, though opponents hope to challenge it in a statewide referendum in the fall.
According to the 2010 Census, there are just over 19,000 same-sex couples in Washington. Assuming half of them choose to marry within three years of legalization — the rate in Massachusetts after same-sex marriage became law there in 2004 — that would mean about 9,500 marriages that otherwise wouldn't take place.
(Washington now has about 40,000 marriages a year, according to federal data.)
Weddings are big business, as anyone who's paid for one lately knows all too well: The average spent on a wedding in Washington was $25,414 in 2010, according to industry-research website
Even if, as the institute estimates, same-sex couples spend only a quarter as much on their Big Day as heterosexual couples, that's still more than $6,350 per wedding.
Do the math and it works out to $60.4 million in direct spending over three years.
But few couples get married by themselves. A Massachusetts study found that same-sex couples had an average 16 out-of-town guests at their ceremonies.
Assuming that holds true here, that means more than 152,000 extra visitors.
A state Commerce Department study last year found that visitors to our fair state spend an average $185 per day on transportation, lodging, food and Pike Place Market tchotchkes. So add another $28.1 million, for a total impact of $88.5 million.
The institute notes that this estimate doesn't consider any gains from out-of-state couples who might travel here to get married, and it assumes that wedding expenses would come from couples' savings (or credit cards) rather than being diverted from other spending.
Also, more than 7,500 same-sex couples already have registered as domestic partners in Washington; those folks may simply convert their partnerships into marriages and forgo the flowers, prime rib and '80s cover band.
Dropping them leaves a low-end estimate of just under 2,000 full-blown ceremonies, and cuts the total impact to $18.5 million.
Either way, based on Massachusetts' experience, most of the impact would be felt quickly: The study estimates that nearly two-thirds of the three-year total of weddings would occur in the first year after legalization.
All that, of course, would be a boon to florists, caterers and the rest of the wedding-industrial complex — not to mention the state and local governments, which would share close to $8 million (in the high-end scenario) in additional sales taxes and hotel/motel taxes.
In terms of the overall state economy, however, the impact would be tiny.
More than $100 billion in taxable sales occur in Washington each year, and last year the state alone collected $7.2 billion in sales and use taxes.

— Drew DeSilver,

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Super Bowl Sunday - the gay way!

So you know that Kent and I are huge sports fans. We have season tickets to UW football and Basketball. And while we also enjoy professional sports out main interest lies with college sports. Having said that of course we had to catch yesterday's Super Bowl game - Madonna was the half time entertainment! My coming out years were filled with memories of dancing to Madonna songs. The release of her first album the self titled Madonna coincided with my coming out in 1983. Oh the memories.....

Any way I thought I would share a sting of text messages between gay guys durning a Super Bowl so you could get some insight into how we watch the game - I have to say - I think "we" have more fun that the average straight guy watching!

Here goes the text conversation between four gay guys watching the game.

"are you watching the super bowl?"

"I am watching the Super Bowl."

"Yes, go ny!"

"Tom Brady is cuter - I'm going for NY!"

"I'm rootin for Giants too. Eli has a hot butt."

"Tom Brady is cute. we're rooting for NE too"

"Brady is way too cute."

"Brady's wife looks like a classic football Ho"

"I don't like the grey pants. they're ugly. however, light colored pants show off packages better. so that's always good"

"Eli has quite a package."

"this is why football is so great. it's so accessible from many different angles and interests."

"We are such butch sports guys."

"nice catch"

"I like the lower scoring game. this is what a football score should be. college football is missing better defenses."

"Even though the score is low it's been a good game."


"I think good defenses make the game better."

"as long as there is some offense too"

"Good ref calls so far"

"That was pretty slick. The fall down that didn't work."

"if your hands touch it, you should catch it. no excuses"

"Wow. NE blows 3 plays."

"Yay, NY!" - (editorial - he was originally going for NE!)

"Good ending"

"Madonna looked really good for an old lady"

"She's had work done."

"Is she about your age?"

Lol! That last comment put an end to the conversation! So next time you are watching a game just know how much more fun we are having!

Have a good one -


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Saturday, February 4, 2012

Snowshoeing, basketball and a movie

It's a beautiful sunny day here in Seattle today - nearly 60 degrees in February! What a treat especially after the snow and ice of a few weeks ago.
We took the opportunity to pack the day full from the second we got up until it was time to hit the sack. We bought snowshoes last year and until today we have not taken them out.

We went up to Snoqualmie Pass to the Iron Horse Trail and took a 6 mile trek through the snow.

We were exhausted by the time we were done. The snow was deep but fairly solid - now we not only have skiing as a winter sport we can head out snowshoeing as well!

Teriyaki for dinner, then took in the new Daniel Radcliffe movie - The Woman in Black which we both found a bit slow.

Nice to see Daniel Radcliffe all grown up. Ever since we saw him in New York in How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying we have become even greater fans.
The Huskies play USC in a late game that does not start until 8pm so we are headed there now. We have seen some great basketball games in the past few weeks! Looking forward to the PAC - 12 tournament.

I signed up for the Chicago Marathon this week as well. I'm excited to make it my travel destination marathon for the year!

I have a lot of time to prepare - its not until October. I found out that my nephew Adam's wife Sam will be running as well! Hoping to run at least one or two closer to home before then. 1/2 marathons for sure. I've been doing pretty good at getting a few pounds off which will definitely help with getting a better time.
Finally tomorrow is my parents anniversary - here is my anniversary wish for them!

Live long and live life to its fullest - love hard and allow yourself to be loved right back and laugh often and as much as you can! I hope you have a wonderful anniversary and know you are loved and appreciated everyday!
Have a great rest of the weekend!
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Friday, February 3, 2012

National forces likely to lead on gay-marriage referendum effort

I am so sick of these people! We all knew this was the next step but to see it in writing just makes me sick. I want to take a vote about the rights of right wing Christians! Telling me I don't have the right to marry and having the public vote on it really pisses me off!

Rolling up my sleeves and pulling out my wallet - bring it on - we are a pretty educated, progressive and inclusive community in the state.

A national group that's spent big money fighting same-sex marriage across the country is gearing up to overturn a gay-marriage bill that's almost certain to pass in Washington state.

By Lornet Turnbull
Seattle Times staff reporter


With same-sex marriage virtually assured in Washington state, opponents seeking to undo it are looking ahead to summer and fall, and to a campaign they say will draw on the resources of national organizations that have waged and won these kinds of fights.
A day after the state Senate approved same-sex marriage on a 28-21 vote and moved the bill to the House, where it's expected to pass, the Washington, D.C.-based National Organization for Marriage (NOM) said it's fully committed to repealing the measure in November.
One of the largest national funders in the fight against gay marriage, NOM also is gearing up for ballot battles in North Carolina and Minnesota, where voters this year will decide whether to ban gay marriage in their constitutions, as 29 states already have done.
In Washington state, NOM will employ strategies not unlike those it used four years ago to help roll back legislatively approved gay marriage in Maine and bring about a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage in California under Proposition 8.
"We plan to submit a referendum on this to the secretary of state before the ink is dry on the governor's signature," said Chris Plante, regional coordinator for NOM. "We've got a major constituency; faith communities across the state will carry a heavy load on this. But they're not the only ones committed to retaining the current definition of marriage."
Because there's no emergency clause on the same-sex-marriage bill now being debated in Olympia, the measure, once signed by the governor, would take effect 90 days after the end of the regular legislative session. That would make June 7 the earliest date gay couples could marry here. It also means opponents would have until June 6 to collect 120,577 signatures to put a referendum on the November ballot.
If they fail, the law would take effect as scheduled June 7. If opponents collect enough valid signatures, the law would be suspended and the referendum would be put on the ballot, leaving voters to decide by a simple majority whether the law is thrown out or Washington becomes the seventh state to allow gays to marry.
The Rev. Joe Fuiten, senior pastor of Cedar Park Assembly of God Church in Bothell, said attorneys already are working to determine wording of the referendum.
"We are 100 percent sure there'll be a referendum, and there's a 99 percent chance we'll be successful in getting the signatures," Fuiten said.
NOM will join the Washington campaign, Plante said, bringing an expertise and ability to coordinate grass-roots organizations — some of the groups that two years ago tried unsuccessfully to repeal parts of the state's domestic partnership through Referendum 71.
"The folks running that campaign pulled it out of a hat," he said, referring to their against-all-odds success in getting enough petition signatures to put that measure on the ballot.
"Imagine how much better they could be with help of a national organization like ours," he said.
Strategies would include a range of media campaigns intended to educate voters, persuading people to register to vote and encouraging them to mail their ballots on time.
"We won't do all the work, but we will bring expertise, experience and the resources of a national organization," Plante said. "We have the ability to raise money effectively, not just in Washington, but across the country."
In 2008, just a year after it was established, NOM spent more than $1.7 million — a good chunk of its total revenues for that year — to push passage of Proposition 8, according to IRS filings.
In 2010, the group's war chest had grown to $9.6 million.
NOM has said it will spend $250,000 to help unseat Senate Republicans who crossed the party platform to vote for same-sex marriage. Four Republican state senators — Joe Fain of Auburn, Andy Hill of Redmond, Steve Litzow of Mercer Island and Cheryl Pflug of Maple Valley — voted with Democrats in favor of the bill Wednesday night; three Democrats voted with Republicans against it.
"There's no question they exert influence," said Peter Nicolas, a University of Washington law professor who authored a book about same-sex-marriage legislation nationwide.
The group, he said, has resources and strong determination when it comes to same-sex marriage. "They've been successful in defeating ballot initiatives regarding gay marriage. But I'm not sure how much success they've had in displacing legislators who supported rights for same-sex couples."
Working to defend the legislation is a coalition of religious, labor and community organizations formed in November as United for Marriage. It, too, has friends with national resources.
Campaign manager Zach Silk said organizers have learned from losses in places such as California and have no intention of taking their opponents for granted.
At the same time, public sentiment toward same-sex marriage has grown more favorable in recent years, with national and state polls showing a majority of voters support legalizing such unions.
The 2008 loss in California was "a lifetime ago," Silk said.
"We are taking the opposition at their word: They'll spend a lot of money, confuse the voters ... ," he said.
"We're gonna make sure that people hear our stories."
Lornet Turnbull: 206-464-2420


On Twitter @turnbullL

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Thursday, February 2, 2012

Seattle Times Editorial

Senate's vote for gay marriage is a principled stand

What a proud moment. The Washington Senate voted to legalize same-sex marriage. A positive House vote is expected, meaning Washington is poised to become the seventh state in the country to provide fairness for all families.

WASHINGTONIANS should pause, reflect and feel good about the state Senate's commanding 28-21 vote to legalize same-sex marriage. Final passage did not come easily. It took years of hard work and careful, incremental politicking along the way.
Congratulations to state Sen. Ed Murray and Rep. Jamie Pedersen, both D-Seattle, and Gov. Chris Gregoire, who all demonstrated leadership on a timely issue.
Special shout-outs to state senators who joined the majority for the final vote: Joe Fain, R-Auburn, Andy Hill, R-Redmond; and Brian Hatfield, D-Raymond.
Fain and Hatfield are from conservative districts. This was a challenging, courageous vote for them. Steve Hobbs, a founder of the Roadkill moderate Democrats, was expected to vote yes, but his speech about serving with gays in the military was one of the more compelling of the evening.
What a proud moment. Washington is poised to become the seventh state in the country to provide fairness for all families, though probably not right away.
A favorable vote in the House is all but secure and expected next week. The governor is prepared to sign the bill.
Unfortunately, the most likely next step after the governor signs the bill is a citizens' referendum, which depends on signature-gatherers collecting nearly 121,000 valid signatures by early June. If successful, the question would be before voters in November.
Any citizen has a right to offer legislation as divisive as gay marriage to voters through referendum or perhaps initiative. But just because people have a legal ability to do something does not make it the wise course. It is not.
Putting a referendum on the law is tantamount to asking the majority to rule on the civil rights of minorities — almost always a lousy idea. When you see signature-gatherers bearing clipboards and seeking support for a public vote, say, "No thanks."
Filing a referendum would put same-sex marriage legislation on hold, meaning hundreds of couples who planned to get married this spring or summer have to wait for voters.
The better course is not to attempt to repeal the law and respect the people we elected to the state House and Senate and governor's chair. They have taken a principled stand.

Historic Senate vote clears way for gay marriage in state

And we were there......

The state Senate passed legislation Wednesday night that would legalize gay marriage. The bill now goes to the House, where it's expected to pass easily.

By Andrew Garber
Seattle Times Olympia bureau

OLYMPIA — In the end, it wasn't even close.
After more than a decade of laying the ground work and fretting that the votes would be just out of reach, state Sen. Ed Murray watched Wednesday night as the Senate easily passed legislation that would legalize gay marriage.
The vote was 28-21.
"For a lot of people in my age group, this is a stunning event," said Murray, the prime sponsor of the bill. "It's something we did not believe would happen in our lifetime."
While it wasn't final passage, the Senate always has been viewed as the biggest hurdle for same-sex marriage legislation, as it was for gay-rights bills in previous years.
The measure now heads to the House, where supporters say they have more than enough votes. It's expected to pass as early as next week. The governor strongly supports the bill as well.
Washington would become the seventh state to legalize gay marriage, depending on the outcome of a threatened referendum challenge by gay-marriage opponents.
Little sign of nervousness was apparent in the hours leading up to the Senate floor action.
Murray, a Seattle Democrat, and his longtime partner, Michael Shiosaki, actually held a celebratory news conference before the Senate went into session.
Gay-marriage supporters packed the Senate galleries, and they burst into applause when the vote tally was announced.
"It's exciting to be here and see the civil-rights movement move forward," said Kevin Moser, 31, a Seattle man who was there with his partner, Bret Tiderman.
"It means that one day our parents will be really excited to go to a wedding," Tiderman said.
Jane Sterland, 56, of Centralia, was one of the few gay-marriage opponents on hand to witness the vote.
"I'm a Christian, and this is not pleasing to God," she said. "I feel very grieved that the bill is even in question."
In addition to the 26 lawmakers who previously had announced support for the Senate measure, two more Republicans, Sens. Andy Hill of Redmond and Joe Fain of Auburn, voted for it as well. Republicans Steve Litzow of Mercer Island and Cheryl Pflug of Maple Valley had pledged support earlier.
Overall, 24 Democrats and four Republicans voted for the bill.
Conservative Democrats Tim Shelton of Potlach, Paull Shin of Edmonds and Jim Hargrove of Hoquiam opposed the measure, along with 18 Republicans.
The floor debate was tame compared to the overheated rhetoric that sometimes characterized gay-rights debates in the past.
Both sides were civil, making brief arguments for their views.
"We ask for your support tonight not simply because marriage is a series of legal protections," Murray said on the floor. "We ask for your support tonight because marriage is how society says you are a family. Marriage is the way a community knows that a couple loves each other."
Nearly a dozen amendments were introduced, including several that passed which strengthen legal protections for religious groups and organizations. A handful were rejected, including one that would shield from discrimination claims photographers, cake decorators and other business owners who refuse to provide services for gay-marriage ceremonies.
The bill also contains a provision that says churches do not have to marry gay couples unless they want to.
Sen. Dan Swecker, R-Rochester, argued that the proposed law alters the definition of marriage and "will lead to the silencing of those who believe in traditional marriage."
"It's ironic how a bill which purports to be about ending discrimination leaves the door open so far for discrimination going in the other direction,"' Swecker said.
An amendment to put the measure on the November ballot, sponsored by Sen. Brian Hatfield, D-Raymond, also was defeated, by a 26-23 vote.
Hatfield, who ended up voting for the bill anyway, said a decision this big should be decided by voters.
"What's the problem? Let's trust the people of this state ... and let the voters have their say," he said.
Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown, D-Spokane, argued the measure is a civil-rights bill and that putting it on the ballot would subject the rights of minorities "to the whims of the majority."
Gay-marriage opponents have promised to challenge any same-sex marriage law at the ballot. A referendum cannot be filed before the governor signs the legislation.
Under state law, opponents have 90 days from the end of the session to collect 120,577 signatures to put a referendum on the ballot. The regular session ends March 8.
If opponents aren't able to collect enough signatures, gay and lesbian couples would be able to be wed starting in June. Otherwise, they would have to wait until the results of a November election.
While the gay-marriage bill passed easily Wednesday, the vote wasn't so certain last month. Many senators were sitting on the fence, and gay-marriage supporters worried they would not have enough votes.
The state Senate, with its mix of conservative Republicans and conservative Democrats, always has been uncertain territory for any measure dealing with the rights of gays and lesbians.
In 2005, a gay-rights bill was defeated by one vote in the Senate. The landmark legislation won narrow approval a year later only after a Republican senator switched sides.
Murray represented the 43rd District in the state House then. At the time, he said the legislation "is one of those rare things that probably only happens once in your life."
Yet, he was back the following year, along with Rep. Jamie Pedersen, D-Seattle, in the House, to push through a series of additional bills dealing with gay rights. That work culminated with the "everything but marriage" law that voters upheld through Referendum 71 in 2009.
In the end, all that was left was the word "marriage."
It was an intentional, incremental approach to pave the way, and build support for legalization of same-sex marriage in the state.
It appears to have worked.
Not only does the bill seem to have broader legislative support than key gay-rights legislation that preceded it, but corporations are tripping over themselves to announce their backing. A number of prominent Pacific Northwest companies, including Microsoft, Starbucks, Nike, Vulcan and Amazon, have endorsed the measure.
Senate Bill 6239 defines marriage as between two persons, rather than between a male and a female.
It also would allow couples from other states with valid civil unions or domestic partnerships — but not marriages — to marry here.
Same-sex marriage is legal in Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New York, New Hampshire, Vermont and the District of Columbia.
Seattle Times staff reporter Stephanie Kim contributed to this report. Information from The Associated Press and The Seattle Times archives also is included.

Andrew Garber: 360-236-8266


State Senate set to vote on gay marriage bill

Kent and I have made the trip to Olympia to be a part of history in Washington State. I understand that today a 26th vote was secured today which is one more than is needed to pass! Republicans and Democrats are in caucus now and once they return the vote will occur!

The state Senate is set to vote on a measure that would legalize gay marriage in Washington state.

The Associated Press

OLYMPIA, Wash. —
The state Senate is set to vote on a measure that would legalize gay marriage in Washington state.
The bill is not expected to come up for a vote until late afternoon or early evening Wednesday. It is expected to pass in the Senate with at least 25 votes, the number needed for approval. If passed by the Senate, the measure moves to the House, where it already has enough support. Gov. Chris Gregoire says she will sign it into law if passed.
Opponents of same-sex marriage have already promised a referendum battle at the ballot if the Legislature passes the bill and it's signed into law.
Washington state has had a domestic partnership law since 2007, and an "everything but marriage" expansion of the domestic partnership law since 2009.

How much change would state's gay-marriage bill really mean?

A proposed same-sex-marriage law in Washington state would require gay couples now registered as domestic partners in the state to convert their relationship to marriage in two years — or have the state do it for them.
By Lornet Turnbull
Seattle Times staff reporter

What the bill would do
The proposed legislation:
• Defines marriage as between two persons, rather than between a male and a female.
• Recognizes the rights of churches and other religious groups to refuse to perform same-sex marriages.
• Gives couples currently in the state's domestic-partnership registry until June 30, 2014, to marry — or have their partnership converted to marriage by the state.
• Allows couples from other states with valid civil unions or domestic partnerships — but not marriages — to marry here.
Under a proposed same-sex-marriage law in Washington state, most gay couples now registered as domestic partners would have two years to convert the relationship to marriage — or the state would do it for them.
The law would allow unmarried gay couples from out of state to marry here, and would grant marriage benefits to those in civil unions and domestic partnerships who relocate here — as long as they then marry within a year.
Churches, mosques, temples, synagogues and their clergy may refuse to marry gays, without penalty, just as they're allowed to now. But there are no comparable exemptions for business owners — such as wedding planners, photographers or florists — who are religiously opposed to such unions.
Advocates and opponents of same-sex marriage are picking through the language of SB 6239 and its companion, HB 2516, as they move through the Legislature on an almost certain path to becoming law.
The Washington law wouldn't be much different from those passed in six states and the District of Columbia allowing gay marriage — and it wouldn't significantly change the way gay couples now live.
Currently, same-sex couples may register as domestic partners and are entitled to virtually all of the same state benefits as married people. The same applies to older straight couples, provided at least one is 62 or older.
Some 9,306 couples are registered — the majority of them same-sex.
Married gay couples get no federal recognition now — they can't jointly file their federal income taxes, for example — and wouldn't be able to under a new state law.
Their marriages wouldn't be acknowledged in most states in this country, including neighboring Oregon, where gay marriage is banned.
But it would become much easier for a couple to explain to a hospital receptionist or an insurance representative that they are married, instead of trying to explain what a domestic partnership is.
"People have an intuitive, societal and meaningful understanding of what marriage is," said Anne Levinson, a former judge and an LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) community and civic leader.
Like married people, same-sex married couples would be able to change their names without having to go to court, the way they have to now. And like married people, they could choose not to live together; domestic partners are required to share a residence.
The law would require domestic partners now in the state's registry to marry by June 30, 2014. If they didn't and their partnerships have not been annulled or dissolved by that time, the state would convert their union to a marriage.
The intention is to avoid having a patchwork of arrangements within the state, Levinson said.
That's not new. In Connecticut and New Hampshire, where gays could form civil unions before gay marriage was legalized, couples were also required to make the conversion to marriage.
The requirement doesn't apply to straight seniors or gay couples where at least one person is 62. They may remain part of the domestic-partnership registry.
Under the legislation, same-sex couples who married in another state would have their marriage recognized in Washington.
Religious groups
The sharpest objections to the legislation have come from conservative religious groups that oppose gay marriage on principle. They also have raised practical concerns about the proposal.
The legislation exempts clergy and religious institutions from performing same-sex marriages. It's superfluous language, since the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution already grants them that protection as a religious right.
The legislation prohibits any state or local government agency from denying benefits or withholding contracts from religious institutions that refuse to conduct same-sex marriages.
It further excuses "religious organizations" from having to accommodate same-sex marriages or celebrations through things like hall rentals. It defines such organizations to include churchlike groups, "nondenominational ministries, ecumenical and mission organizations, faith-based social agencies, and other entities whose principal purpose is the study, practice, or advancement of religion."
That protection, however, does not extend to regular businesses — a florist or hotel, for example — whose owners may have a religious objection to providing services for same-sex marriage. They would remain subject to the state's anti-discrimination laws, which prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and other characteristics.
The bills in the Legislature already have been revised to address some of the religious groups' concerns. Still, many worry the legislation leaves them — and their affiliated operations — vulnerable.
The Rev. Joe Fuiten, senior pastor of Cedar Park Assembly of God Church in Bothell, is troubled by the introductory section that begins: "It is the intent of this act to end discrimination in marriage. ... " Characterizing the state's marital laws as discriminatory, he said, sets up churches like his and their affiliated operations to appear discriminatory in the eyes of private funders that may in the future consider them for grants.
Cedar Park employs 500 people under an umbrella that includes everything from embryo adoption to a cemetery. Fuiten believes many of those entities could be vulnerable under the legislation. "We don't believe (the exemptions are) adequate to protect the church in its entirety — the way it actually is, not the way someone who doesn't go to church thinks it is."
Adoption services
Greg Magnoni, spokesman for the Catholic Diocese, said the organization is monitoring the legislation in Olympia. Catholic Community Services, which offers adoption services and works with the state in placing kids in foster care, tries always to place children with married couples — never with same-sex couples, Magnoni said.
In Massachusetts, the District of Columbia and, most recently, Illinois, Catholic adoption agencies stopped providing adoption and foster-care services after same-sex marriage or civil-union laws were passed. The agencies receiving public funding were required to serve same-sex couples in compliance with the state's nondiscrimination laws.
"Our concern is that the church be allowed to continue serving this vulnerable population," Magnoni said.
Attorneys say the same-sex law proposed for Washington wouldn't change how religious groups and businesses interact with and treat same-sex couples. The state's anti-discrimination law, in place since 2006, would continue to guide that.
A business now prohibited from discriminating against gays, for example, would still be prohibited after the same-sex marriage laws took effect.
"However (these businesses) are treated now, is how they will be treated in the future," said Rep. Laurie Jinkins, D-Tacoma, a co-sponsor of the House bill.
"What they are really doing is attacking the state's anti-discrimination laws, which have nothing to do with marriage."
Lornet Turnbull: 206-464-2420 or