Ed Murray, the lead sponsor of Washington State's marriage equality bill in the Senate, told The Advocate Tuesday afternoon that he expects the measure to pass during a floor vote tomorrow. Twenty-five senators, including two Republicans, have pledged their support as of last week, and they represent the minimum number needed to pass the legislation.
"We believe we have the votes to pass the bill and to defeat any attempt to put it on a referendum," said Murray, one of six openly gay legislators in Washington. "My guess is that probably towards the end of next week, the bill will be signed by [Gov. Chris Gregoire]."
Washington law mandates a 60-day period after a bill is passed before it goes into effect, which allows anyone in the state to ask for the measure to be put on the ballot. Murray said marriage equality opponents have already pledged to do so the same day the bill would be signed, and said he's "absolutely" sure they'll hold to their promise.
"It's going to be a pretty ugly and tough campaign ahead," Murray said.
Marriage equality opponents, including the National Organization for Marriage and local antigay groups, have vowed to stop the bill's passage. NOM has pledged $250,000 to fund primary challenges to any Republican legislator who supports the bill.
But Murray said he's confident about tomorrow's vote, and with the help of Washington United for Marriage -- the key group working on grassroots support for the measure statewide -- the bill will passed into law during November's election season if it does go to a public vote. If that happens, Washington would be the first state in the nation to pass marriage equality in both the legislature and on a ballot.
"It's been 17 years since I first mentioned this, so it better pass," Murray said with an exasperated chuckle.
Watch Murray and his partner discuss why marriage matters here.