Entries from: Jamie Pedersen

Washington marriage bill heads to governor’s desk

pedersenThe Washington House of Representatives today gave final passage to a bill extending marriage rights to same-sex couples. The vote came one week after the bill easily passed in the Senate.  Now the legislation heads to the desk of Gov. Christine Gregoire, who has promised to sign it.

As in the Senate, Washington’s openly gay and lesbian lawmakers led the effort to pass the bill in the House.  The openly gay chair of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Jamie Pedersen, was a key figure in moving the legislation to the floor.  Earlier this week Pedersen had to sit through a hearing on the measure that drew a number of anti-gay witnesses whose testimony veered into strange territory, according to this report.

Washington is now on track to become the 7th U.S. state (plus the District of Columbia) to allow gays and lesbians to marry, though the law’s earliest effective date, June 7, could be delayed if marriage equality opponents gather enough signatures to force the issue onto a statewide ballot.

In 2009, Washington state voters affirmed a bill that extended domestic partner rights and benefits to same-sex couples.  Referendum 71, which asked voters to approve or reject the bill passed by the state legislature, was passed with 53% of the vote.  But a new poll finds Washingtonians almost evenly divided on whether they would vote to approve the marriage equality bill passed today, with 47% saying they’d support the bill and 46% planning to vote to overturn it.

Out Washington legislators introduce comprehensive gay rights legislation

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Openly gay Washington state legislators Sen. Ed Murray and Rep. Jamie Pedersen have both introduced legislation that would offer same-sex couples within the states all the benefits of a civil marriage.

“This is everything but marriage,” Pedersen told The Seattle Times.

Murray sponsored the state’s domestic partnership law in 2007. That law provides same-sex couples with hospital visitation rights, the ability to authorize autopsies and organ donations and inheritance rights when there is no will. Currently, nearly 5,000 couples have become registered through the law.

The Seattle Times reports:

The 110-page bill makes changes to all remaining areas of state law where currently only married couples are addressed. The bill would add same-sex domestic partners to state statutes ranging from labor and employment to pensions and other public employee benefits.

“Although we view this as an improvement that provides real and concrete protections to same-sex partners, it’s an inadequate substitute for marriage,” Pedersen said. “Our hope is that the continuing success of this legislation helps people understand what marriage is, and that it gets them more comfortable with treating all families with equality dignity and respect.”

Pedersen and Murray said that a same-sex marriage measure, also introduced Tuesday, is unlikely to go anywhere this year, but is meant to spark further discussion.

“It’s entirely possible that next year, enough things might have changed that we feel like it’s time to make a run at the marriage bill,” Pedersen said. “We’re not there now. But it’s not out of the question.”

Four Victory endorsees advance in Washington state

rietschel2.jpgThree Washington state legislators and one judicial candidate advanced in their primary elections last night.

Judicial candidate Jean Rietschel (right), Sen. Joe McDermott and Reps. Jamie Pedersen and Marko Liias all finished in the top two of their non-partisan primaries. Two of the candidates, McDermott and Pedersen, ran unopposed.

The candidates:

  • Jean Rietschel has served as a municipal judge for 12 years, but now seeks a seat on the King County Superior Court. She has long supported HIV/AIDS activism and education by providing pro-bono representation work as an attorney under a program from the King County Bar Association with people affected by HIV/AIDS.
  • Joe McDermott won an appointment to his Senate seat in October of last year after serving in the state House for six years. He helped pass the Domestic Partnership Registry in 2007, giving state-registered domestic partners some basic protections for their families, such the right to visit a partner in the hospital, the right to make health care decisions and the right to make funeral arrangements.
  • Jamie Pedersen first won a seat in the Washington House in 2006. In his short time in the House he was the prime sponsor for the passage of the Washington State Domestic Partner Registry. He also served on Lambda Legal’s national board for seven years and worked as Lambda Legal’s lead volunteer lawyer on the state’s same-sex marriage case, Andersen v. King County in 2006.
  • Marko Liias won an appointment to the state House after serving on the Mukilteo City Council since 2005. Born in 1981, Marko serves on the national board for the National Association of Homebuilders and is a member of Built Green of King and Snohomish Counties.

Gov. Gregoire signs Washington domestic partnership bill

gregoire.jpgWashington Gov. Chris Gregoire signed Washington’s new domestic partnership law yesterday, giving gay couples a total of 170 new rights. The bill, sponsored by openly gay state Rep. Jamie Pedersen and openly gay state Sen. Ed Murray, still only provides gay couples with a quarter of the rights their heterosexual counterparts do, according to The Washington Blade.

“This bill strengthens Washington by strengthening families,” Gregoire said. “It strengthens families by providing domestic partners with rights and responsibilities they need to maintain stable, loving relationships for them and their children.”

House Bill 3104 adds additional rights and responsibilities relating to issues such as dissolutions, community property, estate planning, taxes, court process, conflicts of interest for public officials and guardianships.

“Lesbian and gay families lack financial security because we don’t have the basic legal and financial protections that married couples are provided,” said Sen. Ed Murray, D-Seattle, sponsor of the Senate’s version of the bill. “With Governor Gregoire signing this bill today, we’re taking another important step in giving financial equality and fairness to loving families. This work is not about more rights, it’s about equal rights.”

Since Washington’s domestic partnership registry was introduced in 2007, more than 3,000 couples have signed up.

Gay Washington legislators celebrate expanded partnership rights

pedersen2.jpgAs Washington state’s newly passed domestic partnership rights bill goes to Gov. Christine Gregoire’s desk, openly gay members of the legislature are praising the law’s impact on gay couples.

“There has been a profound shift in public understanding. It’s important for us to do as much as we can to protect our families,” said Rep. Jamie Pedersen (right), a member of the Legislature’s unofficial gay caucus and the bill’s sponsor.

Newly appointed state representative Marko Liias contended that the bill was not a direct precursor to gay marriage, as the bill’s opponents have stated.

“I think it’s just a way to distract us from the specific issue we have this year. This bill is not about marriage. It’s about financial security,” Liias said. “People are excited that there is another voice for gay and lesbian families. It made me feel happy and proud of being here.”

However, Pedersen hopes that marriage equality will be possible in the near future for his state.

“We’ve been very clear since we announced our plans last year that our ultimate goal is marriage,” said Pedersen. “There’s some chance — depending on how things go in November — that we could have a real conversation next year.”

Out state Sen. Ed Murray added that the rancor during the debate on the Senate floor was markedly diminished from the high emotions expressed during the passage of the initial domestic partnership bill.

“To paraphrase Bill Clinton, I think (Republicans) realized ‘That dog don’t hunt,’ ” Murray said. “I think Republicans know that when they come out strongly against this, it costs them at the polls with moderate urban Republicans.”