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Washington Gov. Gregoire Supports Marriage Equality, Will Introduce Bill

The two states next up for marriage equality fights in the legislature are Maryland and Washington. Other states have ballot measures on banning same-sex marriage, like Minnesota and North Carolina. But Maryland and Washington are the two where equality could expand, along with California in the event of a favorable court ruling. Maryland has the support of Governor Martin O’Malley, and today, Washington Governor Christine Gregoire announced her support for marriage equality legislation today:

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.

“Today, I’m announcing my support for a law that gives same-sex couples in our state the right to receive a marriage license in Washington – the same right given our heterosexual couples,” Gregoire said before a crowd of gay marriage supporters at her office. “It is time, it is the right thing to do, and I will introduce the bill to make it happen.”

Laurel Ramseyer at Pam’s House Blend has the Governor’s speech.  This is the first time Gregoire has explicitly endorsed marriage equality rather than just conveying the same rights and benefits on same-sex couples. She detailed a “personal journey” today.

The proposed legislation would probably include the “religious exemption” that we saw in New York, but would otherwise allow same-sex couples to get a marriage license. Democrats have majorities in both houses of the legislature, though it will be a fight, just as in Maryland, to get some conservative Democrats to support the cause. But to be clear – Democrats in Washington can only stop themselves on this one.

Certainly there is public support. In 2009, Washington upheld an “everything but marriage” law, conveying those aforementioned rights and benefits, through a public referendum. And in recent years, more and more Americans support marriage equality. It’s just a matter of whether the politicians have caught up to the public. Ed Murray, the Washington state legislator spearheading the effort, said that the legislation is currently a few votes short in the Senate. We’ll see if they can muster them.

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David Dayen

David Dayen