On Jan. 4, Democratic Gov. Christine Gregoire announced that she would introduce legislation to legalize same-sex marriage in Washington State, saying that domestic partnerships, which have been offered since 2007, were “a version of the discriminatory ‘separate but equal’ argument.”
“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,” she said in a statement release by her office. The announcement represents an evolution in Gregoire’s support for gay rights: in her 2004 campaign for the governor’s office, she endorsed some rights for gay couples but stopped short of sanctioning same-sex marriage, according to The Seattle Times.
Currently, Washington’s domestic partnership law gives registered couples all of the rights and protections that are given to married heterosexual couples.
Though Democrats maintain a 27-22 majority in the state Senate and a 56-42 lead in the House, the marriage bill’s passage in this session is not assured. Socially conservative Democrats have joined Republicans to block the extension of couples’ rights in the past.
Sen. Ed Murray (D-Seattle), the gay lawmaker spearheading the marriage bill’s progress, confirmed that “this going to help tremendously in our efforts to move this issue forward, so that people who love each other can have the full recognition that they deserve. That only comes with marriage. And the governor’s leadership is going to help us achieve that day, when our families do have marriage equality.”
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