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Originally published January 8, 2012 at 4:01 PM | Page modified February 6, 2012 at 11:36 AM

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Republican Sen. Steve Litzow helps lead with gay-marriage support

Washington state Sen. Steve Litzow told The Seattle Times editorial board he will be the first Republican in the Senate to support gay marriage. His decision is a profile in courage. He will make a big difference. Passage in the Senate has been described as uncertain.

Seattle Times Editorial

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SOMETIMES it takes just one individual to stand on principle and let others follow. State Sen. Steve Litzow announced he will be the first Republican in the Senate to support gay marriage.

Outstanding. Litzow is a profile in courage, a freshman lawmaker willing to act on conviction.

Litzow of Mercer Island told The Times editorial board he plans to support this historic legislation. His announcement follows last week's decision by Gov. Chris Gregoire to introduce and push a law that affords gay and lesbian couples the same rights and benefits of marriage enjoyed by other couples.

If the legislation is approved — and it should be — Washington would become the seventh state in the country to act on this compelling civil-rights issue.

"I am a traditional Republican," explained Litzow. "When you think about gay marriage, it's the right thing to do and it's very consistent with the tenets of being a Republican — such as individual freedom and personal responsibility."

Litzow is not an activist on social issues, but is a big supporter of education reform. He also is a suburban businessman, married with four children, who believes in treating all citizens fairly. He believes that if two adults of the same gender wish to commit to each other, the state should not discriminate, period. He is correct.

State Sen. Ed Murray, D-Seattle, will work the marriage-legalization bill in the Senate. He has said votes for passage probably exist in the House, but the Senate remains iffy.

Litzow's decision will be a huge factor. He likely will take some heat from fellow Republicans, but his willingness to buck his party is commendable.

An individual lawmaker has thought an issue through and decided to take a stand. His announcement should prompt other Republicans to make the same decision. It is time to legalize same-sex marriage in this state.

Litzow's announcement helps Democrats and Republicans reach that milestone. Senators or representatives who have been waffling should step up and join him.

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