Sen. Benton successfully added two amendments to same-sex marriage bill

When state senators on Wednesday voted 28-21 in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage, they also approved two amendments to the legislation proposed by state Sen. Don Benton, R-Vancouver.

The same-sex marriage bill, Senate Bill 6239, would give gay and lesbian couples the right to marry, but it contains stipulations that allow any religious organization to say no to marrying a same-sex couple.

Benton’s first amendment would extend that religious exemption to faith-based colleges. Those colleges would not be required to provide any facilities, goods or services related to a same-sex wedding.

The Vancouver lawmaker’s second amendment allows faith-bases social service groups such as foster care organizations to fall under the umbrella of “religious organizations” outlined in the bill’s religious exemption.

A third amendment Benton proposed was rejected, though. That amendment would have protected religious adoption and foster care agencies who don’t allow same-sex couples to adopt or foster a child from their organization.

Benton’s two amendments are not set in stone. The legislation now moves to the state House of Representatives for approval. The bill is expected to have enough lawmaker support to pass there.

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