Washington state Senator Jim Kastama on
Thursday announced he would support an effort to make Washington the
seventh state to legalize gay marriage, the AP reported.
Kastama's support puts the proposed
legislation just one vote shy of passage in the Senate.
“This decision is a deeply personal
one,” he said in a statement. “Unlike some of my colleagues in
liberal districts, I will not return home to cheers and handshakes.
I represent the district I was raised in. My wife and I purchased
and live in the same house I grew up in and we have raised our family
there. My district has known me my whole life and for 16 years has
entrusted me to be a fiercely independent legislator. The people of
my district are generous and decent, but I also know that there are
childhood friends who will never forgive me for this vote.”
Kastama, a candidate for secretary of
state, said that marriage laws need to evolve to mirror a shift in
society. The position is a reversal for Kastama, a conservative
Democrat, who in 1998 voted in favor of a bill which defines marriage
as a heterosexual union. However, he supported a 2009 expansion to
the state's domestic partnership law which gave gay and lesbian
couples all the protections of marriage.
The measure is expected to clear the
House with ease and Governor Chris Gregoire pledged her support
during a press conference earlier this month.
Five other senators say they remain
undecided on how they'll vote on the proposed legislation, including
The House and Senate have scheduled
hearings on the bill for Monday.
Currently six states – New York,
Massachusetts, Iowa, Connecticut, Vermont and New Hampshire – and
the District of Columbia have legalized gay marriage. Gay marriage
bills have also been filed in Maryland and New Jersey, which
currently recognizes gay couples with civil unions.
pledges to work against Washington state Republicans who support gay