Same-sex marriage will not become law in Washington without voter approval, an influential state senator told a raucous Saturday town meeting on Whidbey Island packed with gay rights supporters.
“I will tell you they will not have the votes in the state Senate without a vote of the people,” said state Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen, D-Camano, a 20-year veteran of the Legislature’s upper chamber.
Haugen represents a Republican-leaning Island and Skagit County district that includes liberal pockets, notably South Whidbey, as well as very conservative Oak Harbor. She is usually its only Democratic legislator.
She was confronted Saturday with intense emotion from the liberal end of her constituency. At times, the town hall seemed like a Tea Party confrontation in reverse.
“I must represent the entire 10th District and we have a lot of evangelicals . . .,” Haugen began.
“Don’t even go on,” shouted Laura Taylor, a Clinton resident.
... “There will be no bill in the state Senate if it does not go to the people,” said Haugen.
One exchange was particularly passionate:
The veteran senator was not afraid to mix it.
One constituent likened denial of marriage rights to gays and lesbians to racial apartheid in South Africa. “I saw apartheid, I was in South Africa and I can tell you this is different,” Haugen shot back. She recalled the “necklacing” practice in which victims were stuffed in a tire which was then set afire.