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By The Skanner News
Published: 17 May 2006

OLYMPIA— Washington's closely watched same-sex marriage case was argued before the state Supreme Court in March of 2005, and the long, long wait for a decision continues.

Some court-watchers are now speculating that this hot potato could stay under wraps until after the November election.
Gay marriage and gay rights were a front-burner issue in the Legislature this year, and the buzz over the Oscar-nominated "Brokeback Mountain" seemed to galvanize attention.

After 30 years of debate and disputation, lawmakers finally passed a gay anti-discrimination bill — and even before the governor had signed it, initiative activist Tim Eyman began pushing for a public vote this fall.

Legislators were under the impression that the high court would hand down its opinion while they were in session this winter, possibly forcing a huge election-year debate on the touchiest social issue of the day.

But the court didn't do the expected, and the issue has faded to "five minutes ago."

Lawmakers went home two months ago, Eyman says his referendum may not have enough steam to qualify next month for the ballot, and watercooler discussions are more likely about gas prices or immigration.

Still, for those most invested in that pending high court ruling, it's nail-biting time.

"It's a combination of dread and anticipation," said Rep. Jim Moeller, D-Vancouver, one of four openly gay members of the Legislature. "I always get anxious on Wednesday afternoons" when the court Web site lists the cases that will come down on Thursday.

The court is mum. Chief Justice Gerry Alexander, who once said he hoped the court could produce an opinion during the legislative session, recently said, "I can safely tell you that the court is aware of the intense ... interest in this case. ... We will rule and then you will know what each and every one of us thinks."

— The Associated Press

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