OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — A bill to legalize same-sex marriage has been filed in the Washington House as a companion bill to the measure filed last week in the Senate.
The House bill, requested by Gov. Chris Gregoire, is sponsored by Democratic Rep. Jamie Pedersen, of Seattle.
The House version of the legislation, which was filed late last week and officially introduced Tuesday, has 49 Democrats signing on in support and one Republican. Democrats hold a 56-43 majority in the House, and the gay marriage measure already has enough support to pass that chamber.
The Senate is still short of the 25 votes needed for passage there. Sen. Ed Murray is the sponsor of the Senate bill, and 22 other senators, including two Republicans, have signed on in support.
Both the House and Senate will have public hearings on the bills on Monday.
Washington state has had a domestic partnership law since 2007. A “everything but marriage” bill was passed in 2009, greatly expanding that law. Opponents later challenged it at the ballot box, but voters upheld the law. Nearly 19,000 people in Washington are registered as domestic partners.
Under the bills being considered by the Legislature, people currently registered in domestic partnerships would have two years to either dissolve their relationship or get married. Domestic partnerships that aren’t ended prior to June 30, 2014, would automatically become marriages.
Domestic partnerships would remain for senior couples in which at least one partner is 62 years old or older. That provision was included by lawmakers in 2007 to help seniors who don’t remarry out of fear they could lose certain pension or Social Security benefits.
The gay marriage bills are Senate Bill 6239 and House Bill 2516. Read about the bills online at http://www.leg.wa.gov.