Gay Marriage Legal With Governor’s Signature
Same-sex couples won the right to marry on Monday.
Gov. Chris Gregoire signed a measure legalizing gay marriage in a ceremony in Olympia on Monday. It made Washington the seventh state to legalize same-sex marriage.
A tearful Gregoire announced: "We’re here to make history here in the great state of Washington..This is a very proud day...A day that we did what was right, what was just, what was fair."
"Here in our state we have taken a long and difficult journey, and this is the last step."
She said the law sends a message throughout the world that Washington stands for equality.
"My friends, welcome to the other side of the rainbow," said state Sen. Ed Murray, D-Seattle, before Gregoire signed the bill.
The House passed the bill on a 55-43 vote Wednesday, a week after the Senate approved it.
The law takes effect June 7, but opponents have promised to fight back with a ballot measure that would allow voters to overturn it.
If opponents gather enough signatures to take their fight to the ballot, the law is put on hold pending the outcome of a November election. They must turn in more than 120,000 signatures by June 6 to challenge the proposed law. An anti-gay marriage initiative has also been filed. To qualify, 241,153 signatures must be submitted by July 6.
Gregoire said she is confident will vote to support same-sex marriage.
"Isn’t it time to make strong families and make Washington state stronger?"
Washington state’s momentum for same-sex marriage has been building and the debate has changed significantly since 1998, when lawmakers passed Washington’s ban on gay marriage. The constitutionality of that law ultimately was upheld by the state Supreme Court in 2006. But earlier that year, a gay civil rights measure passed after nearly 30 years of failure, signaling a change in the Legislature.
The quick progression of domestic partnership laws in the state came soon after, with a domestic partnership law in 2007. An "everything but marriage" expansion was later upheld by voters years later.
In October, a University of Washington poll found that an increasing number of people in the state support same-sex marriage. About 43 percent of respondents said they support gay marriage, up from 30 percent in the same poll five years earlier. Another 22 percent said they support giving identical rights to gay couples, without calling the unions "marriage."
If a challenge to gay marriage law was on the ballot, 55 percent said they would vote to uphold the law. And 38 percent said they would vote to reject a gay marriage law.