Yakima's voting record opposes gay rights

Yakima's voting record opposes gay rights
YAKIMA - KIMA took a closer look at Governor Gregoire's proposal to introduce a bill allowing equal marriage rights of same-sex couples.

Voters here in Yakima have been at odds with the rest of the state when it comes to expanding rights of same-sex couples.

Susan Burdick and her wife got married 3 years ago in California.

The lesbian couple relocated to Yakima from Seattle with their daughter for work.

They are happy to see the governor get behind the issue they consider a question of equal rights.

"How do I follow my truth and be allowed the same rights as my parents enjoy as a heterosexual couple?" asked Burdick.

It's not clear the rest of the Yakima Valley agrees.

You remember referendum 71 from 2009?

The state voted to expand the rights of the more than 19,000 domestic same-sex couples in Washington, but the measure stopped short of allowing gay marriage.

Despite passing statewide, voters here in Yakima overwhelmingly voted against the referendum with only 35% supporting it.

Yakima Representative Norm Johnson voted to expand rights for same-sex couples.

However, he says he will not support the gay marriage proposal.

"We've got a lot on our plate when we go back to Olympia, particularly a $1.5 billion deficit and I think that's what we ought to be concentrating energies on and not on other things that are not as important as that at this time," said Rep. Norm Johnson, (R) District 14.

The governor's announcement stirred a lot of debate on KIMA's Facebook page representing both sides of the issue.

Some viewed marriage as a right reserved to a man and woman and felt same-sex couples should not be able to wed.

We spoke with an openly gay pastor at the Rainbow Cathedral Church in Downtown Yakima.

He says often times public disapproval of homosexuality, gay rights and gay marriage comes from a lack of knowledge and lack of understanding.

Pastor Bill Poores hopes Governor Gregoire's public support of gay marriage will not only open up dialogue, but increase some acceptance."

"We're all a part of that great creating which god did, and looked at and said this is good. How can I, man, say it's not good," said Rainbow Cathedral Metropolitan Community Church Pastor Bill Poores.

Soon, this issue will be in hands of state lawmakers.

There is no referendum attached to the bill that would include a public vote if adopted.

Governor Gregoire says the state's budget crisis is no reason to avoid the issue.