NATION

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray overjoyed by same-sex marriage ruling

It was late January 2006, and then-state Rep. Ed Murray waited on the floor of the Washington state Senate, watching legislators vote on a bill that was near to his heart — and that had failed by just one vote the year before.

This is how the Seattle Post-Intelligencer described the scene at the time, as it slowly became clear that a measure to outlaw discrimination against gays and lesbians in Washington was finally about to pass:

Murray has carried the torch for the gay rights bill since he was appointed to the House in 1995. Waiting in the wings with his longtime partner, Murray's face seemed to brighten with every yes vote.

"I'm very happy," Murray said. "It's a moment of joy."

That longtime partner, Michael Shiosaki, was at Murray's side again Friday, but there were major differences between the two events.

Shiosaki is now his husband. These days, Murray is described as the first openly gay married mayor of a major American city.

And on this day, the couple stood before reporters in City Hall celebrating a milestone they never thought they'd live to see. The U.S. Supreme Court had just ruled that gays and lesbians nationwide have a constitutional right to marry.

Murray's voice shook with emotion and his eyes filled with tears as he read from Justice Anthony Kennedy's decision before a crowd of staffers, activists and reporters:

"He said, 'No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than they were.'"

Murray had started the early morning news conference with a cheery, "Good morning."

Someone from the audience called out, "Yes, it is." The happy crowd laughed and clapped.

"Today, I am able to say to Americans what I said to Washingtonians the day we signed our marriage equality bill," Murray said. "'Welcome to the other side of the rainbow.' America is a place where you can dream dreams that really come true."

He thanked the U.S. Supreme Court and President Obama "for his leadership and showing courage in his own personal journey on our issue."

He said he was proud of the Evergreen State Legislature and its voters, "who led this nation on this issue."

And he gave somber and heartfelt kudos to former state Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen, whose support for Washington's bill legalizing same-sex marriage in 2012 came with great sacrifice. At the time, Murray and Haugen were serving together in the Senate.

A year later, Murray ran for mayor; he and Shiosaki married shortly after the primary.

"I particularly want to call out the legislators who I served with," Murray said, particularly Haugen, "who was the 25th vote and paid the ultimate price by losing her election for her heroic, heroic stand."

A visibly moved Murray said Friday morning that he had "never imagined this day. I never imagined myself as an elected official."

He'd been involved in politics in college, he said, “and when I came out I decided I can't be elected. I didn't know anyone who was elected. There was only one person that I knew about and he was shot.”

That would be former San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk, assassinated in 1978 along with Mayor George Moscone in the metropolis' elaborate City Hall. A decade later, Cal Anderson, the first openly gay member of the Washington state Legislature, was elected.

"And it was sort of like a glass wall fell down," Murray said. “Growing up, I realized at the election of John Kennedy, I could see it in my grandparents and my parents, someone like them was never elected president.

"For me, someone like me had never served in public office until Cal did," he continued. "So I couldn't have imagined living anything but a secret and painful, painfully lonely life. So it's a long journey, and I'm so happy that young people today don't imagine that."

Murray got the good news Friday morning as he was working out on his stationary bike in the basement of his and Shiosaki's home. They'd been up late the night before, ministering to their sick dog, and he'd slept in just a bit.

There he was, puffing away, when his communications director sent him a text saying the Supreme Court decision had just come down.

"Viet Shelton texted me and said: 'it's full equality,'" Murray recounted.

“And I text back and said: "Really?"

 maria.laganga@latimes.com

Follow @marialaganga for more national news

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