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Gay Sen. Ed Murray to Marry After Primary

by Shaun Knittel
Contributor
Wednesday Jan 30, 2013
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State Sen. Ed Murray (D-43), who led the referendum campaign to legalize gay marriage, has announced his plans to marry his longtime partner, Michael Shiosaki on August 10. The wedding is planned for the 22-year anniversary of the day they met, on a hiking trip at Mt. Rainier.

The August 10 wedding also happens to be four days after the August 6 primary election, where Murray is campaigning for Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn’s job at City Hall.

To say that 2012 was a big year for Murray and Shiosaki is putting it mildly. Although Murray’s announcement to run for mayor came in late 2012, his announcement that he intended to get married did not.

On February 1, 2012, just before the state Senate vote on marriage equality, the openly gay Senator took the floor and acknowledged that he would soon be marrying Shiosaki.

"Those of us who support this legislation are not, and we should not be accused of, undermining family life or religious freedom," said Murray. "Marriage is how society says you are a family."

Murray mentioned Shiosaki as he told his Senate colleagues before the vote "regardless of how you vote on this bill, an invitation will be in the mail" to their future wedding.

Weeks earlier, Shiosaki testified before the Senate on January 23, 2012, during hearings for SR Bill 6239, otherwise known as the Washington State marriage equality bill.

Murray gave a statement and split his time with Shiosaki.

"Ed and I have been together for more than 20 years now and through much of our time together I have tried to keep our political life separate from our private life," said Shiosaki. "Today I am compelled to speak out about our relationship and what marriage means to us."

"Ed and I have found over the years that sometimes it is the little things that make a strong relationship," he continued. "Ed and I are very different people but we have challenged each other to grow on many interesting and significant ways."

"We have been together for more than 20 years now and I have tried to keep our political life separate from our private life. Today I am compelled to speak out about our relationship and what marriage means to us."

"Through my family’s experience and my own experience growing up as a member of the Japanese American community in Washington State, I have witnessed my community struggle for inclusion into the mainstream of society," he said. "I see that same struggle for recognition and inclusion with marriage no matter when or where it has been tried, history has demonstrated that separate is not equal, it never can be. As Ed and I begin our third decade together, we hope that this is the year we can marry."

Murray and Shiosaki got what they asked for. The Senate went on to vote 28-21 to pass the bill, setting the stage for the House vote, which also passed the bill. Soon thereafter, former Washington State Democratic Gov. Chris Gregoire signed the bill into law. And, after a public campaign to approve a referendum to keep the new law, on November 6, 2012, Washingtonians voted for the freedom to marry.

To say the Sen. Murray and Shiosaki fought for love is an understatement. Murray is credited with spearheading nearly every single gay rights, domestic partnership, and marriage equality legislation in the state over the past 20 years he spent in the House and Senate. Shiosaki stood beside him through it all.

Murray admits that he thought it might be "a little weird" to get married so close to the primary election, but said that Shiosaki really wanted to do it then.

"Over the years Michael has had to give up a lot for my schedule," said Murray.

Murray gave in. But before the two could make a proper announcement, Murray unwittingly announced the couple’s engagement on Facebook Tuesday afternoon.

Sitting at his desk in Olympia, Murray noticed he could change his Facebook profile from domestic partners to "engaged."

When he did this, his Facebook wall posted the update about his change in relationship status and the comments started pouring in. More than 100 people had "liked" his status within 45 minutes, leading to Shiosaki calling him directly to ask about the unplanned announcement.

The two have said publicly in the past that they planned to marry sometime in 2013, but they hadn’t gotten specific.

Murray said he and Shiosaki have "waited a long time to get married in our own state."

They plan to exchange vows at St. Mark’s Cathedral.

Shaun Knittel is an openly gay journalist and public affairs specialist living in Seattle. His work as a photographer, columnist, and reporter has appeared in newspapers and magazines throughout the Pacific Northwest. In addition to writing for EDGE, Knittel is the current Associate Editor for Seattle Gay News.

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