Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Today is the 33rd day of the 60-day legislative session…we are more than halfway through the regular legislative session. Unfortunately, we have not seen a budget proposal other than the education budget unveiled by House Republicans last week. Instead, we have been dealing with bills that redefine marriage to include: same-sex couples; ban plastic bags; mandate insurance coverage for abortion; abolish the death penalty; legalize the non-medicinal use of marijuana; and one bill that would make spitting, playing a radio too loudly, skateboarding or roller skating on a state ferry a misdemeanor.
During the session, I have emphasized – and will continue to do so – our most important reason for being here is to pass a fiscally responsible, sustainable budget. There certainly seems to be a lack of urgency by the majority party with the budget. We should be focusing on jobs and the economy. None of our bill proposals (that would get Washington working again) have been moved by the majority party.
National Guard honored
Last Friday, was a day I look forward to every legislative session – the honoring of the Washington National Guard. As citizen soldiers and airmen looked on from the House of Representatives' chamber gallery, we approved House Resolution 4655, commending our 8,600 servicemen and women. The ceremony was uplifting as lawmakers talked about their pride of service members who serve with quiet skill, bravery and dignity. But it was also filled with emotion as stories were told of those who gave their lives for their country. I am honored to be one of the five legislators chosen to speak on the House floor that day honoring them. (I have attached an audio clip from my floor speech.)
On Wednesday Senate Bill 6239, which would allow same-sex marriage in Washington, passed the Legislature and is now headed to the governor's desk for her signature. Those of you who know me, know I am very passionate about this issue. I understand there are unique views, and many of us come from differing faiths and backgrounds. However, I did not, and will not support this legislation. This is not something the Legislature should have considered, especially when our budget and economy are crying for our attention.
Our state has a $1.5 billion budget shortfall, the economy is stagnant and we have about 300,000 people still looking for work. Yet, the majority party felt compelled to spend much time, energy and resources on this legislation. Making this a priority and focusing on this issue demeans the situations of those who are unemployed and looking to the Legislature to get Washington working again. One-quarter of 1 percent of the state's population, or about 9,200 people are registered as domestic partners, and many are heterosexual seniors. Yet, 300,000 need work and we have not yet passed any bills this session to stimulate the economy or job growth. I am greatly disappointed.
I would add, our state's Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) passed by the Legislature in 1998, says a marriage contract is a civil contract between a male and a female…and it is a long-standing institution between one man and one woman. The federal DOMA law also supports this one man, one woman marriage concept.
Finally, same-sex couples currently have all of the rights, benefits and privileges of married couples. After 2009, legislation was passed, “marriage” and “domestic partnership” are legally indistinguishable in the Revised Code of Washington (RCW). This legislation is not necessary.
I respect everyone's views, and all people should be treated with respect and dignity, regardless of their position. However, I truly believe marriage in Washington State should remain between one man and one woman.
Thank you for allowing me the great honor to serve you. God bless you one and all!