Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen, D-Camano Island, announced Monday that she supports gay-marriage legislation in the Senate, giving proponents the 25 votes needed for passage.
The state House already has enough lawmakers in support of the measure to approve it. Gov. Chris Gregoire backs the bill as well.
Sen. Ed Murray, D-Seattle, prime sponsor of the measure in the Senate, had thought he'd have to put the legislation up for a floor vote without knowing the outcome.
That all changed Monday.
"I know this announcement makes me the so-called 25th vote, the vote that ensures passage. That's neither here nor there. If I were the first or the seventh or the 28th vote, my position would not be any different," Haugen said in a statement.
"I happen to be the 25th because I insisted on taking this much time to hear from my constituents and to sort it out for myself, to reconcile my religious beliefs with my beliefs as an American, as a legislator, and as a wife and mother who cannot deny to others the joys and benefits I enjoy," she added. Haugen said her preference would be to send the issue to voters to decide, but there aren't the votes in the Legislature to do that.Currently, six states plus the District of Columbia have gay-marriage laws. Washington appears certain to become the seventh state to make same-sex marriages legal.
Sen. Haugen released a statement about her decision late Monday. In part, it states:
“To some degree, this is generational. Years ago I took exception to my parents’ beliefs on certain social issues, and today my children take exception to some of mine. Times change, even if it makes us uncomfortable. I think we should all be uncomfortable sometime. None of us knows everything, and it’s important to have our beliefs questioned. Only one being in this world is omniscient, and it’s not me.The Associated Press notes if the House and Senate approve the bill and it is signed by Gov. Gregoire before the end of this legislative session, then same-sex marriages could be held as early as June.
“I have very strong Christian beliefs, and personally I have always said when I accepted the Lord, I became more tolerant of others. I stopped judging people and try to live by the Golden Rule. This is part of my decision. I do not believe it is my role to judge others, regardless of my personal beliefs. It’s not always easy to do that."