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Originally published April 21, 2005 at 12:00 AM | Page modified April 21, 2005 at 6:01 PM

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State Senate rejects gay civil rights bill

The legislation, a longtime goal of the state's politically active gay community, was rejected today by one vote, 25-24.

The Associated Press

OLYMPIA — The Washington Senate today rejected the so-called gay civil rights bill by one vote, 25-24.

Sen. Jim Hargrove, D-Hoquiam, one of two Democrats who voted against the bill, said he opposed it for religious reasons.

"I believe adultery is wrong, I believe sex outside marriage is wrong, I believe homosexuality is wrong. Therefore, I cannot give government protection to this behavior," Hargrove said.

The other Democrat to vote no was Sen. Tim Sheldon of Potlatch.

The legislation, a longtime goal of the state's politically active gay community, appeared dead earlier this month when a Senate majority sent it to the Judiciary Committee, where it was bottled up as a key deadline came and went.

Today, the Senate narrowly approved a procedural move by Democrats to exempt the measure from the cutoff, and allow it to come up for a vote. Senators also voted to pull the bill, House Bill 1515, from Judiciary so it could be debated by the full Senate.

Minority Republicans unsuccessfully sought to exempt other bills from the cutoff, too, including a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. The state already has a Defense of Marriage Act that defines marriage as the union of a man and a woman. That law is being challenged in the state Supreme Court.

The House-passed gay-rights measure would ban discrimination against gays and lesbians in housing, insurance and jobs.

It's a perennial issue that has been introduced in the Legislature for the last 30 years. The House passed the bill in February, 61-37.

Gov. Christine Gregoire said she was disappointed that the measure failed.

"I remain committed to ending discrimination and I urge all my fellow citizens to do all we can, individually and as a community, to make Washington a safe and welcoming place for all people to live and work," she said in a written statement.

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