About an hour from now, the Washington State legislature will open hearings on two identical same-sex marriage bills, HB 2516 and SB 6239, in the House and Senate in Olympia:

Senate: 10 a.m. in the Senate Committee on Government Operations, Tribal Relations and Elections, Senate hearing room 2, J.A. Cherberg Building. A series of prearranged three-person panels, both pro and con, will speak, then the committee chairman will pick people at random who signed up to speak. The hearing will last for about two hours.

House: 1:30 p.m. in the House Committee on Judiciary, hearing room A, John L. O’Brien Building. Five bills are on the agenda, and gay marriage is the last one. It’s expected to be heard around 2:30 p.m.; testimony will go for an hour.

The hearings are expected to be crowded. So unless you’re already in line, I suggest watching them at home. Both will be aired live on TVW.

I believe that both bills will come to a vote as early as the beginning of February. There are enough votes in the House and it’s possible that one or two uncommitted Senators may tip the balance in favour in the Senate. Then Washington would be the seventh state in the US to allow same-sex marriage.

The momentum is definitely there. Recently 50 major-city mayors called for marriage equality. And here’s Governor Christine Gregoire on the matter:

For more, read these great articles (roughly in chronological order) in the The Advocate, the Huffington Post, and Seattle Times.

I have a lot to say on this issue. Most obviously that it’s time and past time for politicians to stop splitting hairs and do what’s simple and right: I want marriage, not just marridge. Separate but equal is not equal. The rest I’ll save that for another post. Meanwhile, go read the articles.

ETA: The bill now has the votes in the Senate. Looks as though it will come to a vote next month. I’ll post updates.