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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, June 21, 2013 - Volume 41 Issue 25
Pride 2013: A time to celebrate
Section One
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Pride 2013: A time to celebrate

by Patty Murray - United States Senator

Each June, Pride Month brings communities together to honor diversity, equality, and love. And this year, we can all celebrate some truly historic gains as LGBT couples are finally able to express their commitment to each other in the same way so many other Washingtonians have throughout our state's history - by joining in marriage and saying 'I do.'

When former Gov. Gregoire signed the marriage equality bill into law last year, it was a day of joy for all of the loving, committed LGBT couples in our state and for all of us who respect and support them. Unfortunately, there were those who felt the need to try and turn back the clock and roll back the gains we made. Thankfully, there was an impressive coalition of organizations, unions, congregations, and businesses in our state who were determined to work just as hard, if not harder, to defend our victory and pass Referendum 74. Now, the state I love is one step closer to ensuring we are not discriminating against anyone because of who they love.

Passing Referendum 74 was a moment for our state to show why we are looked upon as a national model for being inclusive, for being accepting, and for embracing what makes us alike, and what makes us different. But most importantly, it was a moment to reaffirm the fundamental right that we all have, from Seattle to Spokane and all across our great nation, to live and love freely, fairly, and equally. But our fight does not end there.

ENDING DISCRIMINATION
Thanks to the LGBT and allied communities' commitment to achieving equality, the tide is turning and it is turning rapidly across America. While perhaps nothing I do will be as important and as meaningful in these efforts as when I joined with so many Washingtonians to mark 'Approve' on my ballot in November, I am committed to continuing the fight for equality back in the 'other' Washington.

That's why right now in Congress I have once again signed on to the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA); it's why I'm working to implement tough new measures to combat bullying and harassment in our schools by cosponsoring the Student Non-Discrimination Act (SNDA); it's why I have called on Veterans Affairs Secretary Shinseki to allow LGBT veterans and their spouses to be buried alongside each other in our national cemeteries; and it's why I have teamed up with Congressman Steve Israel to introduce the Freedom from Discrimination in Credit Act (FDCA).

With the support of organizations like the Human Rights Campaign and Credit Union National Association, FDCA will once and for all prohibit discrimination in the provision of credit based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Obtaining credit is a critical step for many looking to buy a home, go to college, or start a small business. I believe equal protection under the law is a fundamental right in our country, and no one should suffer discrimination when trying to secure a roof over their head or a high-quality education. I am standing up against discrimination because as Americans we value fairness and equality, and together we will pass laws that live up to our ideals.

FAIR IMMIGRATION REFORM
And finally, I strongly support efforts to craft a system within immigration reform that will unite families by extending immigration sponsorship privileges for married bi-national LGBT couples. My heart breaks each time Washingtonians are split apart because their marriage is not recognized by the Federal government. While I'm hopeful the Supreme Court will strike down DOMA before the end of the month, we should also move decisively to make immigration reform inclusive of all LGBT families.

In Washington state, when we see discrimination, we all stand shoulder-to-shoulder to defeat it. From immigration and employment laws, to our policies for veterans and military families, I am continuously impressed by the advocacy and passion Washingtonians exhibit when the time calls. While there is much to celebrate this Pride Month, I am particularly proud to represent a state that is poised to once again help change the course of history and give true voice and meaning to the idea that all are created equal.

Sen. Patty Murray has represented Washington in the U.S. Senate since 1993.

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