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Originally published February 2, 2012 at 9:31 AM | Page modified February 2, 2012 at 11:31 AM

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Senate's vote for gay marriage is a principled stand

What a proud moment. The Washington Senate voted to legalize same-sex marriage. A positive House vote is expected, meaning Washington is poised to become the seventh state in the country to provide fairness for all families.

Seattle Times Editorial

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WASHINGTONIANS should pause, reflect and feel good about the state Senate's commanding 28-21 vote to legalize same-sex marriage. Final passage did not come easily. It took years of hard work and careful, incremental politicking along the way.

Congratulations to state Sen. Ed Murray and Rep. Jamie Pedersen, both D-Seattle, and Gov. Chris Gregoire, who all demonstrated leadership on a timely issue.

Special shout-outs to state senators who joined the majority for the final vote: Joe Fain, R-Auburn, Andy Hill, R-Redmond; and Brian Hatfield, D-Raymond.

Fain and Hatfield are from conservative districts. This was a challenging, courageous vote for them. Steve Hobbs, a founder of the Roadkill moderate Democrats, was expected to vote yes, but his speech about serving with gays in the military was one of the more compelling of the evening.

What a proud moment. Washington is poised to become the seventh state in the country to provide fairness for all families, though probably not right away.

A favorable vote in the House is all but secure and expected next week. The governor is prepared to sign the bill.

Unfortunately, the most likely next step after the governor signs the bill is a citizens' referendum, which depends on signature-gatherers collecting nearly 121,000 valid signatures by early June. If successful, the question would be before voters in November.

Any citizen has a right to offer legislation as divisive as gay marriage to voters through referendum or perhaps initiative. But just because people have a legal ability to do something does not make it the wise course. It is not.

Putting a referendum on the law is tantamount to asking the majority to rule on the civil rights of minorities — almost always a lousy idea. When you see signature-gatherers bearing clipboards and seeking support for a public vote, say, "No thanks."

Filing a referendum would put same-sex marriage legislation on hold, meaning hundreds of couples who planned to get married this spring or summer have to wait for voters.

The better course is not to attempt to repeal the law and respect the people we elected to the state House and Senate and governor's chair. They have taken a principled stand.


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