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The Seattle Times political team explores national, state and local politics.

January 14, 2013 at 2:15 PM

Off to a rocky start: Dems see state Senate prayer as swipe at same-sex marriage

Sens., from left, Andy Hill, Rodney Tom, Linda Evans Parlette and Don Benton pray on the opening day of the Washington State Legislature in Olympia. (Photo by Ken Lambert / The Seattle Times)

The first day of the state Senate’s 2013 session got off to a rocky start Monday after the opening prayer included what some saw as a reference to same-sex marriage.

As part of his invocation, Jon Sanne of Olympia’s Calvary Chapel expressed that marriage be strengthened “as You ordained it for our good and Your glory.”

Many saw that as a swipe at same-sex marriage, although Republican leader Mark Schoesler — who invited Sanne to speak — said it was not meant as a political statement.

“He prayed,” Schoesler, R-Ritzville, said in an interview on the Senate floor. “I asked him to speak, and I don’t censor prayer.”

Still, Democrats expressed disappointment.

Sen. Kevin Ranker, D-Orcas Island, called it “polarizing language,” in a speech on the floor.

And Democratic leader Ed Murray released a statement saying it was “regrettable that we begin the 2013 session on a divisive note.”

“The loaded phrase ‘strengthen marriage as You ordained it for our good and Your glory’ is intended as negative commentary about gays and lesbians, and has no business being included in a prayer before this institution,” said Murray, D-Seattle.

Murray, who is openly gay, was an architect of the Legislature ‘s bill legalizing same-sex marriage. The bill passed last year, and voters approved it in November.

Comments | More in Same-sex marriage, State Legislature | Topics: ed murray, gay marriage, Kevin Ranker


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