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Gay-marriage bill passes Washington House, heads to governor for her signature

By Andrew Garber, The Seattle Times –

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Legislation legalizing gay marriage is on its way to the governor after passing the Washington House by a 55-43 vote.

Gov. Chris Gregoire, who supports the measure and watched as lawmakers voted, has five days to sign it after the bill arrives. She hasn’t set a date yet.

There was never any doubt the legislation would be approved in the House. More than 50 lawmakers announced support for the bill before it came up for a vote.

The biggest hurdle was the state Senate, which has conservative Democrats opposed to the measure. Even there, it passed last week with a 28-21 vote.

Lawmakers in the House debated the measure for more than two hours, although as GOP Rep. Jay Rodne noted early on, “This bill is going to pass. It’s a foregone conclusion.”

Supporters of the legislation argued it’s a matter of civil rights for gay and lesbian couples.

“Marriage is the word our society uses to describe committed lifelong relationships,” said Democratic Rep. Jamie Pedersen, a gay lawmaker who helped lead efforts to push the bill through the Legislature.

“I would like for our four children … to grow up understanding that their daddy and papa have made the kind of lifelong commitment to each other,” Pedersen said. “Marriage is the word we use in our society to convey that idea.”

Rodne, who opposed the measure, argued gay marriage is not an issue of civil rights.

“Marriage has been the union of a man and a woman,” he said. “When that union is consummated there is potential for the creation of life. Marriage is about life.”

Gay-marriage supporters packed the House galleries and burst into applause when the vote tally was announced.

Washington would become the seventh state to legalize gay marriage, depending on the outcome of a threatened referendum challenge by gay-marriage opponents.

Gay-marriage opponents have promised to challenge any same-sex marriage law at the ballot. A referendum cannot be filed until the governor signs the legislation.

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