Issaquah senators offer key Republican support for same-sex marriage bill

February 2, 2012

By Warren Kagarise

NEW — 10 a.m. Feb. 2, 2012

Issaquah legislators offered key Republican support for the same-sex marriage bill passed in the state Senate on Wednesday.

Cheryl Pflug

Steve Litzow

Cheryl Pflug and Steve Litzow joined the 28-21 majority to endorse the legislation.

So far, a half-dozen states — Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and Vermont — plus Washington, D.C., allow same-sex marriage. Washington state has had a domestic partnership law — or “everything but marriage” law — in place since 2009.

(Pflug, a former state representative from Maple Valley, represents the 5th Legislative District; Litzow, a freshman senator from Mercer Island, represents the 41st legislative district.)

Issaquah’s other senator, Democrat Rodney Tom, also endorsed the legislation. (Tom represents the 48th Legislative District, including the Greenwood Point and South Cove neighborhoods.)

The measure heads next to the state House of Representatives. The bill is expected to easily pass the House and proceed to Gov. Chris Gregoire to be signed into law.

The governor, a Democrat, endorsed same-sex marriage legislation last month. Gregoire praised the Senate decision.

“This vote was courageous and was only possible with bipartisan support,” she said in a statement. “That support shows Washington’s commitment to equality. Fair-minded and responsible leaders crafted a bill that protects religious freedoms while ensuring equal rights. I commend our state senators who acknowledged tonight that separate but equal is not equal.”

King County Executive Dow Constantine, another early supporter of same-sex marriage, lauded senators after the vote.

“All adult residents should and soon will be able to marry under state law — making Washington the seventh U.S. state to recognize this basic civil right,” he said in a statement. “I salute the many supporters of this legislation and the senators who took a tough vote to do the right thing.”

The push to legalize same-sex marriage faces additional hurdles, even if the governor signs the measure into law as expected. The measure includes legal protections for religious groups and organizations.

Opponents pledged to challenge the same-sex marriage law on the November ballot.

Under state law, a referendum cannot be filed before Gregoire signs the legislation. Then, opponents have 90 days from the end of the legislative session — March 8 — to collect 120,577 signatures to put a referendum on the ballot.

If opponents fail to gather enough signatures to hold a referendum, same-sex marriages could start in June. If the measure goes to voters, election results determine if same-sex marriage proceeds.

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