This Washington

Session Begins with "Divisive" Prayer

The 2013 legislative session launches with a prayer that includes a not-so-veiled slap at last year's marriage equality law.

By Erica C. Barnett January 14, 2013

Reporting by Josh Feit in Olympia.

With the state senate still wrapping up its opening ceremonies, there's already been some drama in the chamber. We're not talking about the infamous Republican coup (two conservative Democrats joined the minority senate Republicans to form the "Majority Coalition Caucus")—more on that drama later—but an invocation that seemed to include a not-so-veiled slap at gay marriage. 

In the sermon, which opened the session, Olympia pastor Jon Sanne of the Calvary Chapel of Olympia, who was selected by senate Republican leader Mark Schoesler (R-9), asked God to inspire legislators to "strengthen ... marriage as you ordained it for our good," an apparent attack on the marriage-equality law voters upheld in November. The seeming rebuke to marriage equality came just days after Georgia minister Louie Giglio withdrew from delivering the invocation at President Obama's inauguration after news surfaced of virulently anti-gay remarks he made in the 1990s. 

Out in the wings, state Sen. Ed Murray (D-43), who sponsored and championed the marriage-equality bill, was visibly upset. "Is that the way we're choosing to start the session—in this divisive manner?" Murray asked.

In a subsequent statement, Murray added:

I find it regrettable that we begin the 2013 session on a divisive note. In the Senate, we have a long tradition of offering an invocation as a moment for all of us to come together before setting out to debate the tough policy issues of the day. The invocation is meant to be inclusive of all and is not intended to provide a platform for political views. 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.

Sanne also asked that God bring the legislature closer to him and help them find their way back to traditional values; it ended by invoking "our savior, Jesus Christ."


Show Comments