In a major boost to Wash­ing­ton Unit­ed for Mar­riage’s efforts to make Wash­ing­ton the sev­enth state where mar­riage equal­i­ty is the law of the land, Gov­er­nor Chris Gre­goire this morn­ing declared her full sup­port for leg­is­la­tion to over­turn the state’s dis­crim­i­na­to­ry Defense of Mar­riage Act (DOMA) and per­mit gay and les­bian cou­ples to legal­ly wed — as they now can in six oth­er states.

“It’s time, it’s the right thing to do, and I will intro­duce a bill to do it,” Gre­goire said at a press con­fer­ence in Olympia, flanked by Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Jamie Ped­er­sen and Marko Liias, along with Sen­a­tor Ed Mur­ray. “I say that as a wife, a moth­er, a stu­dent of the law, and above all as a Wash­ing­ton­ian with a life­long com­mit­ment to equal­i­ty and free­dom. Some say domes­tic part­ner­ships are the same as mar­riage. That’s a ver­sion of the dis­crim­i­na­to­ry ‘sep­a­rate but equal’ argument.”

“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,” the gov­er­nor added.

“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.”

The gov­er­nor told reporters she believes the state is ready for mar­riage equal­i­ty, not­ing that Wash­ing­ton has been a jour­ney towards full civ­il rights for peo­ple of all sex­u­al ori­en­ta­tions for more than half a decade now.

In ear­ly 2006, the Leg­is­la­ture enact­ed leg­is­la­tion ban­ning dis­crim­i­na­tion on the basis of sex­u­al ori­en­ta­tion. That was fol­lowed by a bill estab­lish­ing domes­tic part­ner­ships in 2007, and anoth­er bill expand­ing domes­tic part­ner­ships (the “every­thing but mar­riage” law) in 2009.

Vot­ers upheld “every­thing but mar­riage” in Novem­ber of 2009 by approv­ing Ref­er­en­dum 71, and pub­lic opin­ion research sug­gests a major­i­ty of Wash­ing­to­ni­ans would be will­ing to vote to change the law to allow LGBT cou­ples to marry.

We at NPI thank Gov­er­nor Gre­goire for tak­ing this coura­geous, prin­ci­pled stand… we can’t applaud it enough. We wish she would do the same on oth­er issues. If Gre­goire would only renounce aus­ter­i­ty the way she renounced the sep­a­rate but equal argu­ment against full mar­riage equal­i­ty this morn­ing, she could end her sec­ond term as gov­er­nor on a high note, which we’d very much like to see.

POSTSCRIPT: The full text of Gre­goire’s pre­pared remarks is avail­able here.

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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