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We were with State Senator Mary Margaret Haugen (D-Camano Island) as she sent out a press release today, expressing her support for a bill to legalize gay marriage in Washington state. She becomes the 25th vote in the state senate, meaning gay marriage supporters appear to have the votes needed to pass the bill in the legislature. An excerpt of our interview, conducted just as she sent out her announcement. Video available here.
"I had a town meeting where I was confronted by a lot of people and I told them I would listen, and I have received hundreds of very heartfelt sincere letters. I’ve had letters that are threatening, and I got letters that aren’t so pleasant, but I’m a Christian and I don’t believe it’s my right to judge other people. And I really try to live by the golden rule and I believe that I am following my faith at this point. I really think that it’s the right thing to do."
Q: Did you have trouble reconciling this with your faith?
"No actually, I didn’t really. It wasn’t my faith as much as it was my belief in traditional marriage. My children told me it’s like a generational thing, and I think to some degree it is generational. My parents were prejudiced, I didn’t agree with them. My children don’t agree with me. I think we all grow in this world, and I’m like the governor, I’ve had a journey with myself on this issue, the separation of church and religion. My son was married in Germany and I saw civil services there where everyone is married equally, and I like that. I’ve believed in traditional marriage. But a lot of people who get married traditionally, are not very religious either, so it’s a personal thing for me.
"It’s emotional because of the letters that I got, there’s a young man I watched grow up tell me he was going to commit suicide until someone told him that he too was gay. It’s from the mothers who talk about their children. I’m a mother, talk about how they want their children to have a good life. If you really listen to people, and that’s what I’ve always tried to do is listen to people, and I listened the heart of my district and and I think the heart of my district says this is the right thing to do."
Q: You realize of course, you’re the 25th vote.
"I don’t think it makes any difference if your the 25th or 26th. I’ve come to the decision. It’s time to go back and doncentrate on what we need to be oconcentrating on….This has absorbed a great deal of our time as an issue like this should, but we need to move on.
Q: Downstairs in the public hearing, there are a lot of people who believe this would be an erosion of marriage.”
"It doesn’t threaten my marriage. If anything, it strengthens family, and I think we need to strengthen family. I grew up in a time when a single mother was looked down on. This is about families."