Entries from: Washington

Out Washington state lawmakers to push marriage bill

ringsOpenly gay and lesbian legislators in Washington state have announced they will introduce a bill next year seeking full marriage rights for same-sex couples.

“Our objective is to strengthen the social and legal protections for average, mainstream Washington families — the men, women and their children who make their homes in our communities and neighborhoods,” said Rep. Jim Moeller, speaking to The Columbian.

“We’re going to push it.  I believe 2012 is the best chance we’ve ever had to make marriage equality a reality,” said Sen. Ed Murray, an openly gay Democrat who has served for years in the legislature.

Washington United for Marriage, a coalition of dozens of LGBT, labor and religious groups, is set to announce their plans at a press conference today, according to the Seattle Times.

Recent polling shows most Washingtonians would vote to uphold the law if opponents try to reverse it via a statewide ballot initiative.

Across U.S., LGBT legislators leading fights to expand equality

mddelegatesFrom coast-to-coast, openly gay and lesbian members of state legislatures are asking their colleagues to support expanding equality for LGBT Americans, and in many cases they are leading efforts to enact legislation that recognizes same-sex partners and their families, according to an Associated Press analysis this week:

Of America’s 7,382 state legislators, only 85 are openly gay or lesbian. They are, however, playing an outsized and often impassioned role when the agenda turns to recognizing same-sex couples with civil unions or full marriage rights.

In Hawaii and Illinois, gay state representatives were lead sponsors of civil union bills signed into law earlier this year. In Maryland and Rhode Island, gay lawmakers are co-sponsoring pending bills that would legalize same-sex marriage. In New York, a gay senator, Tom Duane, is preparing to be lead sponsor of a marriage bill in his chamber later this session.

“For my colleagues, knowing that I am not allowed to marry the person that I love and want to marry, that’s very powerful,” said Duane, a Democrat from Manhattan. “It’s more difficult for them to take for granted the right they have to marry when I don’t have it.”

In Maryland a final vote on the pending marriage equality bill could come as early as this week, so the six openly gay and lesbian members of the state’s House of Delegates (pictured)  penned a deeply personal appeal to their colleagues, according to the Washington Post.  The letter reads in part:

For us, as for all of Maryland’s families, a marriage license will mean far more than the paper on which it is printed. For us, it means the possibility of shared health insurance, more stable homes for our children, and fewer conversations about legal documents with attorneys. We would never want the responsibility of voting on you and your spouse’s will, power of attorney, or advanced medical directive, but you’ve been put in that position this week for our families. We have faith that when faced with the option, you will vote to allow same-sex couples the opportunity to fulfill the commitments of mutual support and shared responsibility that we have already made to one another and to our children.

In Colorado yesterday a civil unions bill, sponsored by openly gay state legislators, advanced out of a state senate committee

In Washington State, out lesbian State Rep. Laurie Jinkins sponsored and helped pass a bill that would recognize legally married same-sex couples under the state’s domestic partnership law.

In February, Hawaii House Majority Leader Blake Oshiro, who is openly gay, sponsored and helped pass a sweeping civil unions bill, which was signed into law.

In January, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn signed a civil unions bill that was sponsored by openly gay State Rep. Greg Harris.

“Gay lawmakers are people, as opposed to issues.  The impact of having one of your colleagues directly affected by the legislation on the table is very powerful,” said Chuck Wolfe, president and CEO of the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, according to the AP report.

Photo:  Towleroad

Washington’s gay legislators file marriage equality bill

AjaxHandler.ashxOpenly gay Washington State Sen. Ed Murray picked Valentine’s Day to introduce legislation that would extend full marriage equality to gay and lesbian Washingtonians.  An openly gay colleague in the Washington House, Rep. Jim Moeller, is set to do the same on Tuesday, Murray said in a release:

“Gay and lesbian families in Washington now enjoy the same state spousal rights that their married straight friends enjoy – except for the name ‘marriage’. The recognition that their loving, lifelong commitment is no different from the loving, lifelong commitment of straight couples is the final step to achieving full equality. I believe the Legislature and the public are both ready to take that final step.”

Gay, lesbian candidates advance in Washington, Wyoming

jinkinsThe Washington state legislature is on track to maintain its 6-member caucus of openly LGBT lawmakers after Laurie Jinkins (pictured) advanced in her primary last night.  The Tacoma-area candidate could become Washington’s only openly lesbian lawmaker if she wins the general election this November to represent District 27 in the State House.

Also in Washington, State Sen. Joe McDermott garnered almost 60% of the vote in his primary race for a seat on the King County Council.  State Sen. Ed Murray and State Reps. Marko Llias, Jim Moeller, Dave Upthegrove and Jamie Pedersen also advanced in their reelection bids.

In Wyoming, State Rep. Cathy Connolly was unopposed in her primary race.

Some 50 openly LGBT candidates endorsed by the Victory Fund face primary races between now and the general election in November.  Stay tuned to Gay Politics for updates about key races as we head toward Election Day 2010.

Wash. “everything-but-marriage” law resumes today

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Fortunately, equal marriage advocates have some good news today, despite the upset witnessed yesterday in New York.  Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire has certified the results of last month’s elections, including the approval of Referendum 71 to maintain domestic partner benefits.  As of 12:01 this morning, same-sex couples in the state are eligible to be registered as domestic partners, granting all the rights and responsibilities of heterosexual marriage without the name.

The Washington secretary of state blogged about the certification of the results:

Referendum 71, placed on the ballot by foes of same-sex marriage, was approved by a margin of more than 110,000 votes, or more than 6 percentage points. National media describe it as the country’s first voter-approved domestic partnership or “everything-but-marriage” law.

The new law had been on hold pending the public vote, and will now go into effect at 12:01 a.m. Thursday, 30 days after the Nov. 3 General Election.  The law is Senate Bill 5688 and applies to state-registered domestic partners, both same-sex couples and opposite-sex couples where at least one partner is 62 or older.