State senator Ed Murray is concerned by the premature celebrations prompted by stories like this: "Gay Marriage Within Reach in Washington State." The marriage equality bill does not currently have the votes it needs to get out of the state senate, says Murray, and, even if it did, the fight would not be over.
"People are calling me and congratulating me," said Murray. "There's nothing to celebrate yet. Cal Anderson tried for eight years to get the one vote we needed to pass the civil rights bill in the senate. It took me eleven years to get the vote we needed to pass the civil rights bill—it took that long to find one vote in the senate. And we are two or three votes short right now. It's time for people to stop popping the champagne corks and get to work."
What's the work that people need to be doing?
"People need to contact their legislators. They need to give to Washingtons United for Marriage. They need to talk to their friends, their family members, their churches and synagogues. People need to step up. If you live in Seattle, write a check. If you live outside Seattle, contact your state legislators. We have work to do. Put the champagne away, it's not time yet."
And Murray doesn't want people to think the battle is over even if the marriage equality bill gets the votes it needs in the senate and Gov. Gregoire signs it into law.
"The rightwing will put it on the ballot," said Murray. "We saw that with R-71. The organizations down here working—the gay organizations—have hired lobbyists and community organizers. That has to be paid for. HRC has seven full-time community organizers in seven districts in Washington state and they've hired a business lobbyist to work with businesses, and all of that has to be paid for. And the way to do that is by giving to Washington United for Marriage."
"It's not over when it passes the senate," says Murray. "We can win in the senate and lose at the ballot box—if we don't get organized now."