Marriage Equality community meeting in Richland MondayPosted: Updated:
RICHLAND, Wash. -- Activists launched a campaign Monday to make Washington the seventh state to allow same-sex couples to marry.
A coalition called Washington United for Marriage announced it would lobby the Legislature to approve a gay marriage law next year. The measure would not grant same-sex couples any significant new rights -- Washington has had an expanded domestic partnership law, the "everything but marriage" law, on the books since 2009.
"We are starting with reaching out state wide in a grass root effort to empower voters. We will be sharing our stories and hoping the community reaches out to their legislators," says Ron Hearne the Executive Director for Washington United For Marriage.
The meeting is Monday, November 21 at the Shalom United Church of Christ in Richland at 6:30pm. The church is located at 505 McMurray Street, but this is not the only church hosting this type of event. Dozens of marriage equality meetings are happening state wide at places of worship.
Reverend Stephen Eriksen with the Richland Church says their congregation is not taking a stance on the issue, but merely hosting the event. He does however say that the church has long history of tolerance and equality, from abolishing slavery to civil rights. "One of our congregations hosted Martin Luther King when he gave one of his most famous speeches," says Eriksen. In other states where gay marriage is legal, their counterparts have officiated over same sex marriages.
Others have also chimed in to support the bill, including Jay Inslee, who is running for Governor in 2012."For him, it's an equal rights issue," said Inslee spokeswoman Jaime Smith. "He feels really strongly that the government shouldn't have a role in preventing a committed couple from enjoying the kind of marriage he has with his wife."
State Attorney General Rob McKenna, the Republican candidate for governor, supports the state's domestic partnership law but not support gay marriage, said his campaign manager, Randy Pepple.
It is legislators who will be making the ultimate decision. Jerome Delvin, Larry Haler and Brad Klippert all have a history of opposing same sex marriage. Delvin says he would vote no on the issue, Haler did not respond to NBC Right now.
Brad Klippert says he's been straight forward all along about his stance on marriage. "I believe in marriage between a man and woman and that won't change ever. That will stay rock solid for as long as I'm an elected official," says Klippert.
Democrats have the majority rule in both the Senate and House so the coalition believes this year may be their best chance to pass this bill.