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Washington state passes House marriage equality bill, queers poised to tie the knot

After Washington state passed a bill through the Senate last week we knew that the road to gay marriage in our neighbor to the north was only a matter of time. Today we are one step closer, that is, pretty much there, with the House passing the HB 2516 by 55-43. All that’s left now is for Gov. Gregoire to sign, seal and deliver it, which she is expected to do.

However, because there is no emergency clause on the bill, the law wouldn’t take effect for 90 days giving opponents time to get a referendum on the ballot. This would effectively stall gay marriages until after the November election meaning none of those troublesome “grandfathered” unions like the couples who married in California before Pop 8 was passed.

A referendum to repeal the marriage equality bill would need 241,153 signatures of registered voters by July 6 to secure a place on the November ballot — initiative to define marriage exclusively between heterosexual partners would require just 120,577 signatures gathered by June 6 to secure a position on the ballot. It seems a bit of a confusing process, so you can read a FAQ about the process from Seattle’s King 5.

Though the vote passed fairly easily there were plenty of opponents, and the bill was debated for at least 2 hours before the vote. The New Civil Rights Movement has some great House floor debate quotes, including a speech they call eloquent from Rep. Jamie Pedersen (D), who chaired the judiciary committee that brought the bill. And in a nice twist on the joke of the liberal threatening to move to Canada Rep Jay Rodne (R) said that if the bill passed, “I don’t know if I want to be here.”

Washington would become the seventh state to legalize same sex marriage, depending on the outcome of a threatened referendum challenge by marriage equality opponents, following Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, Maine and New Hampshire.

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