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LGBT groups celebrate 55-45 Washington state House vote to allow same-sex couples to marry

These are a few statements released tonight by gay-rights groups involved in the Washington state campaign to allow same-sex couples to marry:

National Gay and Lesbian Task Force:

WASHINGTON, Feb. 8 — Washington state is poised to become the seventh state to allow same-sex couples to marry, following the state House’s passage today of a marriage equality bill by a 55-43 vote. The measure cleared the state Senate last week by a 28-21 vote, and Gov. Christine Gregoire is expected to sign it.

On Jan. 4, the governor announced she supported marriage for same-sex couples, saying, “When someone asks me what marriage means, I don’t think about the legal protections of a marriage license. I think about love, commitment, responsibility and partnership. Same-sex couples should not be denied the meaning of marriage. They have a right to be equal.”

Six other states currently allow marriage for same-sex couples — Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, New Hampshire, Vermont and New York — as does the District of Columbia.

Over the years, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force has worked with equality advocates in Washington state to secure protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people and their families. This includes supporting the successful 2002 campaign when the Task Force Action Fund partnered with Tacoma United for Fairness to preserve the city’s existing nondiscrimination ordinance; the victorious 2006 effort to secure statewide nondiscrimination protections for LGBT people; and the 2009 passage of Referendum 71 to extend domestic partner rights.

Statement by Rea Carey, Executive Director,
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force

“The governor kicked off 2012 in style when she vowed to support marriage equality. One month later, we find ourselves on the brink of history. This is a tremendous victory for Washingtonians. It affirms what millions of people across the country already know — loving, committed same-sex couples and their families should be able to join in the celebration and responsibilities of marriage, just as many of their friends, family, neighbors and colleagues already do. People from every background and every circumstance get this; they understand because being able to marry the person you love and care for your family are shared values.

“This has been a long journey of changing hearts and minds. The many years of door-knocking, phone calls and poignant conversations about why marriage matters have broken down walls, placed a spotlight on our common humanity and brought us to this historic moment. Congratulations to Washington United for Marriage, Equal Rights Washington and to all those who have been part of the journey leading to this important victory.”

Statement by Marsha Botzer, Washington United for Marriage Coordinating Committee Member and National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Board Member

“Washington today stood up for what is right, what is fair and what is good for our families. Today, I am even more proud to call Washington my home. This day comes after years of tireless work, of building capacity on the ground, of personal conversations about our lives, our families, and why marriage matters to us. The absolute, determined and unrelenting commitment to full equality and fairness by so many, including all of us at the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, is helping to create positive change for LGBT people within Washington state and beyond its borders.”

WashingtonUnitedForMarriage.org:

Washington State House Approves Landmark Legislation Legalizing Same-Sex Marriage

Bill passes 55-43 on bipartisan vote; Governor expected to sign by Valentine’s Day

OLYMPIA – Washington United for Marriage, a broad statewide coalition of organizations, congregations, unions and business associations that will work to obtain civil marriage for lesbian and gay couples in Washington State in 2012, today hailed the Washington State House’s vote in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage legislation in Washington State.  The measure passed by a bipartisan vote of 55-43.

“We thank Speaker Chopp and Rep. Pedersen for their leadership, as well as the bipartisan coalition of representatives who voted today to recognize the love, honor and commitment of all Washington families,” said Lacey All, Chair of Washington United for Marriage.  “Many of us have known for a long time that recognizing the diversity and inclusion our state has to offer is key to our success.  The enactment of this bill will prove to the world that Washington is a great place to live, work and raise a family.  We do not doubt our opponents will be successful in placing a referendum on the ballot, and we will continue to build upon our momentum and win in November.”

“We’re simply overjoyed by the action of the State House today,” said Ryan and Jackie Lipstein from Oak Harbor.  “We’ve shared in each other’s lives for so long and never thought the day would come when our friends, family and neighbors could look upon us as a family like any other.  We can live our lives and contribute to our community just as we’ve always done, but with the same dignity and respect as everyone else.”

The bill now heads to Gov. Chris Gregoire’s desk for her signature.  She has five business days to sign it into law, which she has indicated she will do.  Opponents wishing to challenge the new law would have until June to collect 120,557 valid signatures – the amount required to place a referendum on the November 2012 ballot.
 
At this time, six states plus the District of Columbia recognize marriage for same-sex couples under state law: Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, and Vermont.  Nine states—California, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Washington—provide same-sex couples with access to the state level benefits and responsibilities of marriage, through either civil unions or domestic partnerships.  Same-sex couples do not receive federal rights and benefits in any state.

Lambda Legal:

Lambda Legal Applauds After Washington State Legislature Passes Marriage Equality

"Marriage equality for all marches on."

(Olympia, WA, February 8, 2012) -- Today, the Washington state legislature voted to pass the marriage equality bill endorsed by Governor Christine Gregoire, setting the stage for Washington to join the growing list of states where same-sex couples have won the freedom to marry.

Lambda Legal National Marriage Project Director Camilla Taylor issued the following statement after today's historic vote:

"Marriage equality for all marches on.  Today, members of the Washington House of Representatives joined their colleagues in the State Senate and passed a bill that ends the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage in Washington.  For this, we congratulate Washington United for Marriage, the coalition of organizations, congregations, unions, and business associations that has worked tirelessly to secure civil marriage for loving, committed gay and lesbian couples.

"The fight for marriage equality in Washington, as has been true in similar battles across the country, has not been easy.  In 2004, Lambda Legal and Legal Voice (formerly the Northwest Women's Law Center) filed a lawsuit in state court seeking marriage equality (Andersen v. King County).  While we
won in trial court, that verdict and a similar one secured by the ACLU of Washington were overturned in a narrow 5-4 ruling by the Washington State Supreme Court in 2006.

"However, those cases and the work of many individuals and organizations in the intervening years laid the foundation for the legislative victory we celebrate today.  We thank Governor Gregoire for her leadership, and the many brave members of the state legislature who voted for equality.  We also know the battle is not over and pledge to stand with our coalition
partners to protect this historic legislation."

Under Washington state law, the earliest same-sex couples will be able to get marriage licenses will be June 7, 2012.  Marriage equality opponents are expected to launch a referendum effort to overturn the law, and if they secure enough signatures by June 6 to qualify for the ballot, implementation of the law will be delayed until after the vote.  Currently, six states and the District of Columbia allow same-sex couples to marry.
Marriage equality legislation is currently moving through the New Jersey state legislature, a marriage equality bill was introduced in Illinois, and the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals yesterday upheld a ruling declaring California’s discriminatory Proposition 8 amendment unconstitutional, paving the way for the restoration of marriage equality in that state.

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Is it possible for Florida to fight for these same rights. We have a great population of LGBT that would like to have these same equal rights. When will it be our day of freedom and equality?

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