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WA: Anti-gay state senator Dan Swecker approves pro-gay bill

One of Washington state’s most ardent anti-gay legislators quietly gave his nod of approval on Tuesday to the out-of-state marriage recognition bill (HB 1649).  While lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Washingtonians and their supporters were celebrating Equality Day 2011 on the steps of the state Capitol, Senator Dan Swecker (R-Rochester) voted with the Democratic majority of the Senate Government Operations, Tribal Relations & Elections Committee to send HB 1649 to the Senate floor for a vote.

HB 1649 is a simple reciprocity bill that would “recognize as a valid domestic partnership in Washington state a legal union of two persons, including a marriage, that was validly formed in another jurisdiction and that is substantially equivalent to a Washington state-registered domestic partnership.”

This legislation is needed to prevent the tragedies that befell Janice Langbehn and William Schulte when they faced emergencies while in jurisdictions that did not recognize their family relationships.

Interestingly, in the discussion before the vote Sen. Swecker repeated the reasoning that bill sponsor Rep. Laurie Jinkins (D-Tacoma) used to counter the defamatory insinuation that gays are incestuous that Sen. Pam Roach (R-Auburn) made during last week’s public hearing of the bill.  Sen. Roach was not present for Tuesday’s vote, though she sits on that committee.  The following is my partial transcript from a TVW video of the committee meeting.

SWECKER: In some states you can’t marry your first cousin, but if somebody married their first cousin and then moves to a state that – I don’t know whether Washington is a state where you can’t marry your first cousin or not, but we would recognize it as a marriage.  Is that true?

STAFF:  I believe it’s true.  Washington law will not allow you to marry anyone closer than a second cousin.

SWECKER:  But nevertheless if someone did marry a first cousin in another state and moved here, that marriage would be considered a valid marriage.

STAFF:  I believe that is accurate.

A request for a statement from Sen. Swecker on the reasoning behind his vote was not immediately available.  However, two explanations seem plausible.First, anti-gay forces have frequently voiced their fears that pro-equality advocates will again challenge Washington state’s so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), this time successfully.  A basis for such a lawsuit could perhaps be the unequal application of state law to married out-of-state same-sex couples and opposite-sex couples visiting Washington state.

WA anti-gay orgs have dropped mention of HB 1649.

Another likely explanation is that Washington state’s anti-gay forces know that they are unlikely to prevent passage of HB 1649 or of other LGBT-friendly bills this year.  So they’re cutting their losses and focusing their opposition on a bill they hope they look less mean-spirited in opposing while throwing red meat to their anti-choice, anti-gay supporters, the bill updating the Uniform Parentage Act of 2002 (HB 1267) known commonly as “the surrogacy bill”.

Whether they’re successful in image control is debatable, what with stating that passage of the surrogate bill is tantamount to “allowing women to be bought and sold on the open market akin to livestock”, calling gay families unnatural and implying that gays will perpetrate forced pregnancy, human trafficking and slavery.  But it does appear that the local anti-gay organizations are toeing the same line as Sen. Swecker.  All mention of the out-of-state marriage recognition bill (HB 1649) has been dropped and only the surrogacy bill (HB 1267) is mentioned in the latest messages from Family Policy Institute of Washington, Washington Eagle Forum and Faith and Freedom Network.

What remains to be seen is how much constituent support they can get to oppose the surrogacy bill, which already passed comfortably in the House.  Probably not much.  Judging by the number of women who called in to a recent show on KUOW to discuss the bill, a lot of heterosexual women favor the legalization of compensated surrogacy because of their own experiences or the experiences of family members.

Related:

* Visiting Washington state while married: a tragedy waiting to happen

* Why the Washington state Senate must pass the out-of-state marriage recognition bill

* Is Russell Johnson’s ignorance credible, or was it manufactured to hide somthing unsavory?

* Gays are incestuous and the Catholic Church is a women’s rights group

* Senator Dan Swecker: Gays want to enslave your womb and sell people!

CommunityMy FDL

WA: Anti-gay state senator Dan Swecker approves pro-gay bill

One of Washington state’s most ardent anti-gay legislators quietly gave his nod of approval on Tuesday to the out-of-state marriage recognition bill (HB 1649).  While lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Washingtonians and their supporters were celebrating Equality Day 2011 on the steps of the state Capitol, Senator Dan Swecker (R-Rochester) voted with the Democratic majority of the Senate Government Operations, Tribal Relations & Elections Committee to send HB 1649 to the Senate floor for a vote.

HB 1649 is a simple reciprocity bill that would “recognize as a valid domestic partnership in Washington state a legal union of two persons, including a marriage, that was validly formed in another jurisdiction and that is substantially equivalent to a Washington state-registered domestic partnership.”

This legislation is needed to prevent the tragedies that befell Janice Langbehn and William Schulte when they faced emergencies while in jurisdictions that did not recognize their family relationships.

Interestingly, in the discussion before the vote Sen. Swecker repeated the reasoning that bill sponsor Rep. Laurie Jinkins (D-Tacoma) used to counter the defamatory insinuation that gays are incestuous that Sen. Pam Roach (R-Auburn) made during last week’s public hearing of the bill.  Sen. Roach was not present for Tuesday’s vote, though she sits on that committee.  The following is my partial transcript from a TVW video of the committee meeting.

SWECKER: In some states you can’t marry your first cousin, but if somebody married their first cousin and then moves to a state that – I don’t know whether Washington is a state where you can’t marry your first cousin or not, but we would recognize it as a marriage.  Is that true?

STAFF:  I believe it’s true.  Washington law will not allow you to marry anyone closer than a second cousin.

SWECKER:  But nevertheless if someone did marry a first cousin in another state and moved here, that marriage would be considered a valid marriage.

STAFF:  I believe that is accurate.

A request for a statement from Sen. Swecker on the reasoning behind his vote was not immediately available.  However, two explanations seem plausible. (more…)

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Laurel Ramseyer

Laurel Ramseyer