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Sen. Paull Shin Explains Why He Voted Against the Marriage Equality Bill

The Edmonds Democrat says the proposed bill should be left up to voters.

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.

Katie D February 03, 2012 at 09:10 PM
civil rights and equality protection should not be left up to the voters, but protected at all costs by our government representatives.
Bodhi Martinez February 04, 2012 at 01:35 AM
Paul. I wish you a happy life outside the political arena. You are finished. Your vote was cowardly wrapped in religion and did not represent the people. You are there to vote your constituents conscience, not your own.
Sue G February 04, 2012 at 05:07 PM
Not there to vote his own conscience???? Seriously? People should have made it their business to know his stand on issues and his beliefs before they vote to elect him to the Senate. Voting his own conscience instead of following a party line is exactly what he is supposed to do.. . Agree or not agree with this particular vote, i respect that he does what he thinks is the right thing, not what every other democrat in the senate tells him he has to do. . .
T Hayes February 04, 2012 at 07:42 PM
Should we have left equal rights for Blacks up to the voters? Should we put Sen. Shin's marriage up to a vote? What if people decided that Asians shouldn't marry outside their race? All Americans deserve to be treated equally and that includes gay people. Evoking so-called Christian values is being ignorant of the law, the Constitution, the Bible, and reality. Jesus taught that discrimination is wrong!
Tom Bennett February 11, 2012 at 08:42 PM
This is extremely confusing. The question asks if we agree with Senator Shin that the issue should be decided by the voters, although he himself clearly states that the issue should be decided by the legislators, not the voters.

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