Before hundreds of marriage equality advocates and supporters, Gov. Chris Gregoire today signed historic legislation that makes Washington the 7th state in the nation to allow same-sex couples to marry.
"As governor for more than seven years, this is one of my proudest moments," Gregoire said. "And most surely today is a proud day in the history of the Legislature and the state of Washington. It is a day historians will mark as a milestone for equal rights. A day when we did what was right, we did what was just, and we did what was fair. We stood up for equality and we did it together -- Republicans and Democrats, gay and straight, young and old, and a variety of religious faiths. I'm proud of who and what we are in this state."
Washington now joins Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, New Hampshire, Vermont, and New York plus the District of Columbia in allowing same-sex marriages.
"I'm proud that our same-sex couples will no longer be treated as separate but equal," Gregoire said. "They will be equal. I'm proud that children in our schools and neighborhoods will not have to wonder why their loving parents are considered different than other loving parents. I'm proud of parents who have fought so fiercely for the rights of their much-loved gay and lesbian children. And I'm proud that children who discover they are gay and lesbian can feel good about themselves."
"To Senator Murray and Representative Pedersen, thank you for your skilled leadership as prime sponsors of marriage equality legislation," Gregoire continued. "We have been on this journey together. And the intelligence, care and patience you brought to this struggle over so many years defines what it means to be a great legislator."
Gregoire's signature on Senate Bill 6239 completes a state journey that began in 2006, when the governor signed legislation banning discrimination based on sexual orientation in employment, housing and other areas. In 2007, Substitute Senate Bill 5336 created the state domestic partnership registry. Gregoire signed House Bill 3104 in 2008 which added additional rights and responsibilities relating to issues such as dissolutions, community property, estate planning, taxes, court process, conflicts of interest for public officials and guardianships. Legislation signed in 2009 requires state agencies to ensure that all privileges, immunities, rights, benefits, or responsibilities granted to married individuals are granted to an individual who is or was in a state registered domestic partnership.
"I thank the Legislature not only for making history, but in the way they did it," Gregoire said. "Proponents and opponents were incredibly respectful. Marriage equality is a difficult issue, and feelings run high on both sides. Yet, our Legislature conducted itself professionally and respectfully throughout."