February 9, 2007
Volume 35
Issue 06
search only SGN online
Tuesday, May 26, 2020



Constitutional amendment to ban marriage for same-sex couples introduced
Constitutional amendment to ban marriage for same-sex couples introduced
Two Democrats join nine Republicans in supporting the measure

by Robert Raketty - SGN Staff Writer

Senate Joint Resolution 8219, which would seek to amend the state constitution to define marriage as only between a man and a woman, was introduced last week. The legislation proposes to put the issue before the voters at the next general election.

Sen. Dan Swecker, R-Rochester, is the primary sponsor of the legislation. The legislator has long opposed the extension of rights, protections or benefits to the state's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community.

In 1998, he sponsored the Defense of Marriage Act, which prohibited same-sex couples from marriage. The law was upheld in a narrow decision last July by the state Supreme Court after a legal challenge from same-sex couples who argued the law was unconstitutional.

However, the state's highest court left open the door for legislators to extend marriage or benefits to same-sex couples. Chief Justice Gerry Alexander said that there is nothing in the lead opinion "which should be read as casting doubt on the right of the Legislature or the people to broaden the marriage act or provide other forms of civil union if that is their will."

Taking their advice, the state's five openly Gay legislator's introduced legislation last month that seeks to legalize marriage for same-sex couples and bestow certain rights and responsibilities once reserved only for married couples. However, the second measure is the only one making any steam this session.

The Senate Committee on Government Operations and Elections voted 4 to 3 to pass a domestic partnership measure (Senate Bill 5336) onto the Rules Committee, the next step before heading to the floor of the Senate. Likewise, the House or Representatives Judiciary Committee voted 7-4 on Wednesday to move the House companion of the bill, House Bill 1351, to Rules. In each case, the votes fell strictly along party lines.

"I'm worried that the passage of the Democrats' domestic-partnership bill could eventually lead to the erosion of traditional marriage where couples can choose convenience over real commitment," Swecker said in a written statement last month. "This bill starts lowering the bar on commitment."

Swecker's proposed constitutional amendment is likely to enjoy little support in the Democratic Party controlled Legislature. Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown (D-Spokane) told the Seattle Gay News on Thursday that the bill is unlikely to gain any traction.

"Senate Leadership is very determined to see that the constitutional amendment to ban marriage for same-sex couples doesn't advance," she said.

Likewise, House Speaker Frank Chopp, D-Seattle, said the House Democratic leadership will "absolutely not" allow anything "like that" to pass in the House. "We will not pass a constitutional amendment to amend the marriage laws of our state. We are opposed to it," he said.

The measures dismal chances during the 60th Legislature didn't stop eight Republicans and two Democrats from co-sponsoring the legislation. The cosponsors are: Don Benton, R-Vancouver; Mike Carrell, R-Lakewood; Jim Clements, R-Selah; Jerome Delvin, R-Richland; James Hargrove, D-Hoquiam; Janéa Holmquist, R-Moses Lake; Marilyn Rasmussen, R-Eatonville; Pam Roach, R-Auburn; Tim Sheldon, D-Potlatch; and Joe Zarelli, R-Ridgefeild.

Swecker did not return calls from the SGN seeking comment for this story.

International Readers
We want to learn about you and have you tell us about Gay Life where you live.

read the SGN in Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish

For more info & to sign up:
or call 206.328.8979

bringing you the SGN online
every week!

Seattle Gay Blog
post your own information on
Seattle Gay Blog

copyright Seattle Gay News - DigitalTeamWorks 2006