Penn's Oscar speech hits home in Seattle
From our Komo News-
Penn's Oscar speech hits home in Olympia
By Keith Eldridge & KOMO Staff
OLYMPIA, Wash. -- Actor Sean Penn's acceptance speech at the Oscars touched several nerves at the Washington state Capitol where a bill that aims to gear same-sex partners with the same rights as married couples has sparked debate.
Penn, who won the Best Actor Award for his portrayal of slain gay rights activist Harvey Milk in "Milk," used the Oscars podium to voice his support of gay marriage and to lash out at California's rejection of it.
"I think that it is a good time for those who voted for the ban against gay marriage to sit and reflect and anticipate their great shame and the shame in their grandchildren's eyes if they continue that way of support," he said.
Sen. Ed Murray, D-Seattle, who has been leading the fight for the "everything but marriage" bill for gay couples, couldn't agree with Penn more. "I thought Sean Penn was very eloquent," Murray said. Murray is sponsoring a bill that would offer same-sex couples all the rights and benefits given to heterosexual married couples. The gay rights bill, however, stops short of gay marriage."This state is not ready for marriage equality for gay and lesbian people yet. That's why we continue to pursue domestic partnership benefits," Murray said.
Ready or not, opponents say the bill will lead to a big battle over gay marriage and the question of whether Washington state should be the next to allow it. "I think we have to have an open debate about that instead of these incremental steps that we're taking. We need to talk about marriage, and that's what it's about," said Rep. Matt Shea, R-Spokane Valley. "The majority of Americans support marriage as defined between one man and one woman.
"During his Oscar speech, Penn praised President Barack Obama, calling him an elegant president. But opponents of gay marriage say even the president hasn't endorsed the idea. Supporters were quick to add he hasn't shunned the idea, either.
"The president hasn't, and I think that's a good point to make. At the same time he has not been as openly hostile," Murray said. "We've got to have equal rights for everyone."Same-sex marriage is currently legal in only two states, Massachusetts and Connecticut. Washington state's domestic partnership bill is up for a key vote in a House committee on Tuesday. It is expected to pass.