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January 12, 2007
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Volume 35
Issue 02
 
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Murray becomes second openly Gay state Senator Pedersen follows in Murray's footsteps
Murray becomes second openly Gay state Senator Pedersen follows in Murray's footsteps
State Senator Ed Murray, D-Seattle, was sworn-in as on Monday by Washington State Supreme Court Chief Justice Gerry Alexander. It had been over a decade since an openly Gay man has served in the state Senate.

Murray wasted no time, however, and announced on Thursday the introduction of a domestic partnership bill that includes language that would allow a person to visit a partner in the hospital, make medical decisions for an incapacitated partner, make funeral arrangements, and attain inheritance rights in the absence of a will. A second bill would define marriage as "a civil contract between two persons" and amend marriage laws to include gender-neutral terms.

Before winning election to the Senate last November, Murray served 11 years in the state House of Representatives where he championed legislation of importance to the region's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community. In 2002, he passed an anti-bullying measure, which protects Gay youth from harassment. Last year, he succeeded in passing the Anderson-Murray Civil Rights Bill, which had languished in Olympia for nearly 30 years. The bill outlaws discrimination based on sexual orientation in housing, employment and public accommodations.

In the Senate, Murray will serve on the Senate Judiciary Committee; Labor, Commerce, Research & Development Committee; Rules Committee; and as vice chair of the Transportation Committee.

Murray was born in Aberdeen, has a B.A. in Sociology from University of Portland and lives in Seattle with his long-time partner Michael Shiosaki. He worked formerly as a legislative assistant to Seattle City Councilmember Martha Choe before being appointed to the House in 1995.

On Monday, Jamie Pedersen followed in Murray's footsteps, when he became the third openly Gay man to represent the 43rd Legislative District in the House

A graduate of Puyallup High School, Pedersen went on to earn his B.A. from Yale College summa cum laude in American Studies and Soviet-East European Studies in 1990 and his J.D. from Yale Law School in 1994. In addition to his duties in the House, he is a partner at the Seattle law firm of Preston Gates & Ellis where he practices business law.

Pedersen has helped nonprofit organizations with their corporate contract issues and getting their nonprofit tax status. A few of his nonprofit clients have included the Seattle Men's Chorus, the Pride Foundation, Lifelong AIDS Alliance, Lambert House and the Seattle Gay Clinic. He has also helped people who are applying for political asylum as a volunteer attorney for the Northwest Immigrants Rights Project. Further, he had been a member of Lambda Legal's National Board for over seven years and now serves as chair of Lambda's National Leadership Council.

However, Pedersen is best known for his work as a lead attorney in a landmark challenge to Washington's ban on marriage for same-sex couples. A recent Washington State Supreme Court ruling upheld the 1998 Defense of Marriage Act.

In the House, Pedersen will serve on the Capital Budget Committee, Healthcare & Wellness Committee and Judiciary Committee.

Three other openly Gay legislators, State Reps. Joe McDermott, D-Seattle; Jim Moeller, D-Vancouver; and Dave Upthegrove, D-Des Moines, were also sworn in on Monday after handily winning reelection last November.
State Rep. Jamie Pedersen takes the oath of office with fellow members of the State House on Monday.

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