State Sen. Paul Shinn of Edmonds today announced that he will not support Senate Bill 6239, which concerns marriage equality.
On Wednesday, by a 28-21 margin, Washington's state Senate passed a bill that would legalize marriage between members of the same sex. The House is expected to pass the bill next week, and Gov. Chris Gregoire has said that she will sign it.
Shinn joined two other Democrats and 18 Republicians in voting no.
Here's is the full text of Shinn's comments, which he posted on his Web site:
I want to thank you for your understanding during these past weeks as I considered my vote on Senate Bill 6239 concerning marriage equality. My office has received hundreds of phone calls, emails, and letters, and I know that this is a very important issue to many of you in the 21st district. As your senator, there is no question that you deserve to know the reasoning behind my vote on this bill.
As many of you know, I spent my childhood on the streets of Korea during the Japanese occupation and Korean War. I slept wherever there was shelter, and found food amongst the garbage. This hard life came to an end when I was taken in by a U.S. military officers’ unit as their house boy. A few years later I was adopted by one of those officers, who brought me to America where I was welcomed into his family as a son and brother. To this day there is no doubt in my mind that this act of love and kindness saved my life and made me who I am today.
My adopted family raised me as they raised their own children, with strong Christian values. To this day, I cherish those values and try to live my life in accordance with their teachings. Therefore my vote against passage of this bill was one that was deeply personal.
At the same time, I have the utmost respect for the proponents of this bill and for their right to live their lives as they see fit. I respect their right to cherish their own values and to live in accordance with the teachings of their own faith. These are our brothers and our sisters, our sons and daughters. My Christian values teach that we should love all God’s children equally.
It is in that spirit that I voted against the proposal to send this issue to the people for a vote. I believe strongly that it is far better to foster unity and compassion than to promote divisiveness and anger. Thus, it is our duty as your elected representatives to make these difficult decisions and to avoid protracted and potentially bitter campaigns. I strongly believe that sending such a divisive issue to the voters would only serve to take the burden off of us, as your legislators, at the expense of the people.
I have no doubt that my vote on Wednesday is one that will be applauded by some and abhorred by others. But as we tackle these divisive issues, nothing is more important than our mutual respect for one another, both as Americans and as Washingtonians. It is my hope that regardless of your position on this one issue, I will continue to have your respect as a legislator and your respect as a friend and neighbor.