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January 19, 2012 at 12:14 PM

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State Senate one vote short of legalizing gay marriage


State Sen. Jim Kastama, D-Puyallup, on Thursday announced he'll support legislation legalizing gay marriage.

"Unlike some of my colleagues in liberal districts, I will not return home to cheers and handshakes," Kastama said at a news conference. "I represent the district I was raised in. My wife and I purchased and live in the same house I grew up in and we have raised our family there. My district has known me my whole life and for 16 years has entrusted me to be a fiercely independent legislator. The people of my district are generous and decent, but I also know that there are childhood friends who will never forgive me for this vote."

Kastama's support means there are 24 state senators -- 22 Democrats and two Republicans -- who've said they'll vote for Senate Bill 6239. That's one short of the 25 needed for passage.

The state House already has enough lawmakers in support of the measure to approve it. Gov. Chris Gregoire backs the bill as well.

There's a small pool of undecided votes left in the Senate.

State Sens. Andy Hill, R-Redmond; Joe Fain, R-Auburn; Mary Margaret Haugen, D-Camano Island; Paull Shin, D-Edmonds, and Brian Hatfield, D-Raymond, are uncommitted, according to the lawmakers or members of their staffs.

Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale, has declined to comment, but records show he's voted against every gay-rights bill that's come up for a vote in the past.

Hearings on gay marriage legislation are scheduled for Monday in both the House and Senate.

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