Washington State

  • February 16, 2012

    by Jeremy Leaming

    New Jersey lawmakers, in historic fashion, advanced equality, by voting to allow lesbians and gay men to wed. As The Star-Ledger notes it was the first time the Assembly “had ever voted on the measure.”

    It also follows this week’s action in Washington, where Gov. Chris Gregoire enacted a marriage equality law. That state joined New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Vermont, Iowa and Washington, D.C. in supporting same-sex marriages. Not surprisingly, Religious Right activists are vowing to topple the Washington law, by placing it before voters.

    In New Jersey, Republican Gov. Chris Christie (pictured) has said he would veto the marriage equality bill. He says civil liberties of lesbians and gay men should be placed before voters. The Star-Ledger says the veto may happen today.

    Still, supporters of marriage equality celebrated the vote. Assemblyman Reed Gusciara (D-Mercer) said “this is probably one of the highlights of my legislative tenure – no matter what the ultimate outcome may be.”

    The Maryland legislature is also considering a marriage equality measure. Maryland Gov. Marin O’Malley, unlike Christie, is supporting equality. After Washington lawmakers approved its marriage equality bill, O’Malley issued a statement saying, in part, “It is time for Maryland to do the same.”

  • March 3, 2010

    Following in the footsteps of Ohio, Washington became the second state to adopt a one-drug protocol for lethal injections. The single-drug method replaces the three-drug combination widely used by states, and upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in Baze v. Rees.

    Washington's decision was made public in filings with the state's high court in the case of convicted murderer Darold Stenson. The state's Attorney General Rob McKenna filed the disclosure, requesting that the court dismiss Stenson's appeal of his death sentence. McKenna argued that Stenson's constitutional claims are rendered moot by the change in protocol.

    Though the state seemingly submitted the one-drug method to circumvent Stenson's constitutional claims, the state maintains that the three-drug cocktail is constitutional. In fact, the three-drug method will remain available to death-row inmates in Washington who request it.

  • January 15, 2010
    Guest Post

    By Estelle Rogers, Director of Advocacy, Project Vote

    Some good news came out of Washington Tuesday.

    Sound unlikely? That's because the news comes from the STATE of Washington, where the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals essentially struck down the state's felon disenfranchisement law because it's racially discriminatory and violates the federal Voting Rights Act.

    The case, Farrakhan v. Gregoire, has been in the federal courts since 1996, when the plaintiffs -- all minority citizens who had been convicted of felonies -- sued the state, claiming that the disenfranchisement law discriminated on the basis of race because Washington disproportionately prosecutes and sentences minorities. They produced some compelling social science research to show that disparities in Washington's rates of criminal investigation, vehicle searches, arrest, bail recommendations, and confinement could not be explained by "legitimate" factors, such as the higher rate of minority involvement in criminal activity. Rather, the court concluded, the state's criminal justice system is riddled with racial discrimination at every stage.

    Amazingly, the state didn't dispute the social science evidence, but merely claimed that, even assuming its validity, it is legally insufficient to sustain the plaintiffs' claim under the Voting Rights Act that the felon disenfranchisement law results in the denial of the right to vote on account of race. The court disagreed.

    So now what?