Breaking News from the Seattle Times! Looks like Washington will in fact be the next state to attempt to legalize same sex marriage. Please join me in supporting marriage equality in our state!
Posted by Andrew Garber
Gov. Chris Gregoire on Wednesday said she'll put forward legislation to legalize marriage for gay and lesbian couples.
The proposal will be introduced during the legislative session that starts Monday. If it's approved, Washington would become the seventh state to legalize gay marriage.
"It's time, it's the right thing to do, and I will introduce a bill to do it," Gregoire said in a statement.
"Our gay and lesbian families face the same hurdles as heterosexual families -- making ends meet, choosing what school to send their kids to, finding someone to grow old with, standing in front of friends and family and making a lifetime commitment," Gregoire said.
"For all couples, a state marriage license is very important. It gives them the right to enter into a marriage contract in which their legal interests, and those of their children if any, are protected by well-established civil law."
Currently, gay marriage is legal in New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, Iowa and the District of Columbia, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Gregoire has supported giving gay and lesbian partners the same rights that married couples have today, but has never endorsed same-sex marriage publicly.
The announcement represents a change for Gregoire. While running for governor in 2004, she supported legal rights for same-sex couples but said, "I do not believe that Washington state is ready to support gay marriage."
In a 2008 interview, when she ran for a second term, Gregoire explained her beliefs in more detail.
"There are two issues here," she said. "One is the state's responsibility. To me, the state's responsibility is to absolutely ensure equality. The other is a religious issue, and I leave it to the churches to make that call about marriage."
State Sen. Ed Murray, D-Seattle, a gay lawmaker and leader in the marriage effort, said the gay-marriage legislation being developed would "amend the statutes to allow gay and lesbian couples to marry and to get a marriage license under Washington state law."
However, he said, churches wouldn't be required to perform marriage services for gay and lesbian couples.
Democrats hold a 27-22 majority in the state Senate and a 56-42 advantage in the state House. However, some conservative Democrats in the Senate have voted with Republicans in the past to oppose extending rights to same-sex couples.
The marriage-equality campaign is the result of years of effort by Murray and other backers of gay rights.
The Legislature first passed a law in 2006 prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation in employment, housing, lending and insurance. The rights of same-sex couples have been expanded in a series of subsequent laws, culminating in 2009's "everything but marriage law," which was upheld by a public vote on Referendum 71 that fall.
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