The Washington State legislature begins debate on a marriage equality bill tomorrow. It's a bill that, if passed, would make Washington the seventh state to offer equal marriage rights to its gay and lesbian citizens on a state level. (Full equal rights will require the removal of the federal-level Defense of Marriage Act.)
The bill has the support of soon-to-be outgoing Governor Christine Gregorie as well as large margins in the Assembly and the general publlc. However, the last hurdle remains the state's Senate where the Democrats hold a solid majority, but where several conservative Democrats have been silent on the issue. The Senate is one vote shy of the 25 votes it needs to pass in the 49-member body.
One Senator who has not signaled his intentions is Asian American Paull Shin who represents a solidly Democratic district.
Given the discrimination that Asian Americans have suffered throughout this country and specifically in places like Seattle and Bellingham, it's disheartening that, when given the opportunity to advance civil rights, that our elected officials are not leading the fight.
Part of the reason could be Shin's membership in the Mormon Church, one of the main opponents of equality for LGBT's. Hopefully, Shin will remember, not just the history of Asian Americans, but also the notion of separation of church and state. If he wants to be part of a religion that does not treat it's LGBT members as equals, that is his choice, but he should not make non-Mormons adhere to the tenets of his religion.
At the age of 74, Shin could be thinking about his legacy at this point. There are rumors that he plans to retire at the end of this term. Hopefully, Shin will want to be remembered as someone who stood on the side of justice and equality.
You can contact him at:
Olympia Office: (360) 786-7640
District Office: (425) 673-1393
By postal mail:
Sen. Paull Shin
PO Box 40421
Olympia, WA 98504-0421
Evan Clifthorne, Legislative Assistant
Evan.Clifthorne@leg.wa.gov or 360-786-7640