LANGLEY — State Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen isn’t ready to take a stand on same-sex marriage, but Langley Councilman Hal Seligson is.
Seligson said this week he would present a resolution to his fellow council members on Jan. 17 to support the passage of a new law that would allow same-sex marriage in Washington state.
Last week, Gov. Chris Gregoire said she would present legislation that would legalize same-sex marriage. And at a town hall meeting in Bayview last Saturday, Haugen was confronted by a packed room at the South Whidbey Senior Center filled with residents who asked her to support the change. Haugen said then she did not yet have a position on the issue.
The state Senate was reportedly two votes short of the 25 votes needed to pass the proposal Friday. Haugen, in a statement late this week, said she needed more time to make up her mind.
“I’m listening to all sides and keeping an open mind. I feel the best option is to send it to the voters on a referendum, but I’m still hearing from constituents and I want them to have full opportunity to make their views known,” Haugen said.
The 10th District Democrat said she would continue listening to her constituents in the coming weeks and would not comment again until she had reached a final decision.
Seligson, the Langley council’s mayor pro tem, said he attended the Bayview town hall and it was clear that the desire for marriage equality is strong on South Whidbey.
He said supporting same-sex marriage was an easy position to take.
“For my entire adult life I have been a proponent of civil and human rights, and I take it seriously,” he said.
Seligson recalled that when he was recently sworn into office, he took an oath to uphold the Constitution.
“There is the 14th Amendment,” he said, noting that the Constitution guarantees everyone equal rights under the law.
“I think that applies in this case,” he said. “I know many people over the course of the years who have been in loving relationships who have been denied the rights of others just because of their natural sexual identity.”
If approved by the Legislature, Washington would become the seventh state in the nation to legalize gay marriage.
Seligson said the Langley City Council is nonpartisan, and so is the issue of marriage equality.
“It’s not a partisan issue. It’s a matter of morality, of fairness, of human and civil rights,” he said.
The city of Tacoma has passed a resolution supporting the change, as has the Metropolitan King County Council, he added.
The proposed Langley resolution states: “The City of Langley supports legislation which will provide marriage equality to all persons in the State of Washington. The State has made significant progress on this issue and providing full marriage equality is the next important step.”
Seligson said, given the law covering open meetings, he was not able to poll other council members to see if they will support the resolution.
“I’m hopeful that it will receive strong support from the other members of the council. And I’m hopeful that the community will participate in this meeting and express their opinion.
“We’ll see what happens on Tuesday,” he said.
The Langley City Council will meet Tuesday, Jan. 17, a day later than usual because of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday. The meeting starts at 5:30 p.m. at city hall.