Washington State Aims for Marriage Equality

By Michelle Garcia

Originally published on Advocate.com November 14 2011 6:35 PM ET

Two years after Washington approved a contentious, wide-ranging domestic-partnership law, legislators are now looking to enact full marriage equality.

A coalition of civil rights groups, under the moniker Washington United for Marriage, will announce a push for marriage equality Monday, The Seattle Times  reports. Leaders of the groups said they plan to pressure the legislature to pass the bill in 2012, but they said they are also prepared to defend it from a referendum challenge.

Currently, Democrats control the Senate and House, and Gov. Chris Gregoire supported the domestic-partnership bill in 2009. Still, gay state senator Ed Murray told the Times that some Republicans will have to be swayed to vote in favor of the bill, as some conservative Democrats have voted against gay rights in the past.

Murray, a lead sponsor of the bill, said he will work with the coalition to raise funds and organize efforts to win public support for the legislation. Additionally, Rep. Jim Moeller announced Thursday that he and several other representatives will introduce the bill in the House this week.

In 1998, Washington passed its own Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as only being for heterosexual couples. While the state Supreme Court upheld the law in 2006, Moeller told  The Columbian  that times have changed, and support for marriage equality is growing.

According to the Victory Fund, a recent poll shows that 55% Washington voters would support a marriage equality law if passed by the state legislature.