Washington State is now poised to become the 7th state to have the benefits of Marriage Equality (8, if you count Equality-riddled D.C.). Governor Gregoire has pushed for the bill, set to be introduced in front of the state congress this Monday. The house will very easily pass this. The senate is the last stop. 25 YES votes are required for final passage. For the past month, they have had 23 confirmed YES, 20 confirmed NO. There were 6 holdout, no-answer senators (three Democrats, three Republicans– two Republicans are counted among YES votes already).
This Thursday, we got one more YES.
Senator Jim Kastama, a Democrat who voted in 1998 to keep marriage between a man and a woman but voted for expanded domestic partnership laws last year, is now a big fat YES. He had this very revealing and sobering thing to say on the matter:
“As the economy struggles, deficits rise, and revenues fall, whether we like it or not our federal and state government programs will shrink. Marriage, a source of personal support and financial security for many, will become the true safety net. The state has a responsibility to strengthen marriage to prepare for this economic and societal reality.
As our world has changed, so have our relationships. We are a very different people than we were in the 1950’s or during my childhood. To strengthen marriage as a valued institution it must evolve to meet the demands of today’s couples. In 2012, I believe we have reached the point where society is ready to recognize and support same-sex couples who seek the bonds, benefits and security of marriage. They too, deserve this “safety net.””
NOM, the National Organization for Marriage, is threatening to blow a lot of money and take down key senators like Sen. Kastama for supporting us. Please email him your thanks, so that he can hear something nice instead of their rags. He didn’t have to do this for us.
This puts us ONE VOTE away from victory. Here is The Stranger‘s breakdown of the remaining Senators, each of whom could feasibly lend their support. Most notable is Sen. Joe Fain, just 31 years old and lacking the usual religious or age reasons for withholding support. Even more puzzling is that Sen. Fain’s district is made up of 65% gay marriage supporters. This is the highest amount of support in any of the others’ districts.
It is unlikely we’ll get another YES vote before the bill is formally introduced Monday. But Sen. Kastama’s stance puts this bill on an excellent tipping point. Usually wishy-washy senators feel the heat when it’s this close and swing YES to avoid being on the wrong side of history.
As for those on the right side of history?
Four Republican lawmakers who helped usher in New York’s last year equality bill are set to receive a big fat payday. James Alesi, Stephen Saland, Roy “Fuck it, I don’t care what you think” McDonald, and Mark “I second Roy” Grisanti are to be the recipients of a $1.25 million fundraiser that was held Thursday in Manhattan as a “Thank you, don’t get fired” present from gay rights groups. That should offset any potential damage NOM thinks it can drum up. If you support us, we will be the wind at your backs. We can raise money too, NOM.
“We’re not the least bit surprised about the money trail,” a NOM coordinator said about the fundraiser. Yes, NOM. Shame on our very public fundraiser. We would never dream of having your money trail, which has never, ever been clouded or sneaky.
In fact, the New York equality bill is setting a new gold standard for gay rights, as Governor Gregoire is shaping her state’s bill after that one. Really, the biggest thing is just the clause about religious groups not being forced at gunpoint to marry us if they don’t want to. Fine, religious groups, we don’t want to play with your toy trucks, either.
Well, Washington. I’ll see you Monday.
Oh, one more thing: if this bill passes (and isn’t repealed in some Prop 8 way this November), it will blow gold all over town. $88 million over three years to local businesses in arrangements and tourist dollars. $8 million in tax revenue. If not, well, you’ll get about 1/8th of that from Domestic Partnerships, which is about 1/8th of a marriage anyway.