Washington state senator Ed Murray, lead sponsor of a bill to legalize marriage rights for same-sex couples in the state, believes that the senate is poised for a Wednesday floor vote on the matter, the openly gay legislator told the Seattle Times. Gov. Chris Gregoire has pledged to sign the legislation into law.
With 25 state senators now supporting marriage equality, the bill is expected to pass, just days after it cleared a committee last week in a 4-3 party line vote. The key 25th pledged vote came last week from State Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen, who invoked her faith as a key reason behind her support.
"Personally I have always said when I accepted the Lord, I became more tolerant of others. I stopped judging people and try to live by the Golden Rule," Haugen said last week. "This is part of my decision. I do not believe it is my role to judge others, regardless of my personal beliefs."
The state's house judiciary committee on Monday approved the bill in a 7-6 vote, also along party lines. Republican amendments, including one that would have provided a religious exemption to private businesses, were rejected.
Despite the party-line committee votes, marriage equality legislation has also seen critical bipartisan support in the state. Steve Litzow, the first senate Republican to endorse the governor-backed legislation, has subsequently faced political threats from the National Organization for Marriage, which has vowed to fund any primary challenges against Republicans who support the bill.
Speaking of the NOM campaign, Litzow said in an interview with The Advocate last week, "I am very comfortable with my position in the Senate, and I'm willing to take on any and all competitors. The games have started. ... I continue to say if they want to [play them], let's go. Game on."
NOM, meanwhile, has also pledged to back a referendum on marriage in the November elections.