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For the next year advocates from a broad spectrum of groups will be asking same-sex couples to share their stories with the rest of the

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Washington United for Marriage Hatches State's Best Effort Thus Far to Legalize Same-Sex Marriage

Gay-Marriage02.jpg
For the next year advocates from a broad spectrum of groups will be asking same-sex couples to share their stories with the rest of the state. The strategy appears to represent Washington's most concerted effort thus far in making same-sex marriage legal.

The coalition group Washington United for Marriage announced its intentions on Monday saying that it "will work to obtain civil marriage for lesbian and gay couples in Washington state in 2012."

Seattle Weekly spoke with ACLU of Washington Deputy Director Jennifer Shaw about why her organization is throwing its weight behind the effort, and furthermore how they're going to win.

"The first thing we're going to do is to start the conversation in the communities," Shaw says. "We want to give an opportunity for same-sex couples to share their stories and share why this matters to everyone. One of the things we've seen in states where this has been a success is when people know same-sex couples they really understand that marriage has the same meaning to these couples as it does to them."

As it stands in Washington, same-sex marriage is illegal because of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act. This act has been challenged, ruled unconstitutional, and overruled as constitutional in the state already, and the Washington Legislature has built upon it with other laws including a 2007 law that granted civil-union rights to same-sex couples.

In 2006 the Washington Supreme Court ruled that the state Legislature could indeed pass laws that made same-sex marriage illegal, much to the dismay of gay-rights supporters. But that ruling also opened the path for the current effort by Washington United for Marriage because the ruling also made it clear that the Legislature could also pass a law that makes same-sex marriage legal.

This, Shaw says, is one of the reasons that the group is pursuing a change in law through the legislative process and not through a voter initiative.

"What we've found is that having a discussion with the Legislature first is important," Shaw says. "Pushing this on the voters without having that discussion first might be too much."

Upcoming meetings for the group are as follows:

Lakewood

Tuesday, November 15

6:30 p.m.-8 p.m.

Clover Park Tech College

4500 Steilacoom Blvd. SW

Vancouver

Thursday, November 17

6 p.m.-8 p.m.

YWCA Clark County

3609 Main St.

Gig Harbor

Thursday, November 17

6:30 p.m.-8 p.m.

United Methodist Church

7400 Pioneer Way

Seattle

Sunday, November 20

3p.m.-5 p.m.

St. Mark's Cathedral Bloedel Hall

1245 10th Ave. E

Bellevue

Monday, November 21

7 p.m.-9 p.m.

East Shore Unitarian Church

12700 Southeast 32nd St.

Richland (Tri-Cities)

Monday, November 21

6:30 p.m.-8 p.m.

Shalom United Church of Christ

505 McMurray St.

Spokane

Tuesday, November 22

6:30 p.m.-8 p.m.

Spokane Falls Community College; Bldg. 24, Rm. 110

3410 W Fort George Wright Drive

Bellingham

Tuesday, November 29

6:30 p.m.-8 p.m.

Fairhaven College Auditorium

516 High St.

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