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.