Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen, a Democrat who describes herself as having “very strong Christian beliefs,” is the 25th vote needed to pass the bill out of the Washington Senate, the Associated Press reported. The bill has enough supporters in the House, and Gov. Chris Gregoire endorsed the measure earlier this month.
Haugen issued a statement announcing her support immediately after a two-hour legislative hearing in Olympia Monday about the bill, the Seattle Times reported.
“For me personally, I have always believed in traditional marriage between a man and a woman,” she said, according to the Seattle Times. “That is what I believe, to this day. But this issue isn't about just what I believe. It's about respecting others, including people who may believe differently than I. It's about whether everyone has the same opportunities for love and companionship and family and security that I have enjoyed.”
If the same-sex marriage bill does pass, Washington will be the seventh state to legalize gay marriage. Currently New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire and Iowa allow same-sex marriage.
However, gay Washington-staters won’t be able to get married right away if, as expected, opponents of same-sex marriage challenge the measure at the ballot, the AP reported.
According to the AP:
The National Organization for Marriage issued a statement Monday morning pledging a referendum campaign to fight any gay marriage law at the ballot. Last week, the group announced that it would spend $250,000 to help fund primary challenges to any Republican who crosses party lines to vote for same-sex marriage in Washington state.