In an historic moment in the movement for LGBT equality, Washington Governor Chris Gregoire will sign the marriage equality bill into law today at 11:30AM Pacific time! Watch live coverage here and here. Update: Video of the speeches and signing ceremony is below.

Today Washington becomes the 7th state to allow gay and lesbian couples to marry, joining Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire and New York as well as the District of Columbia.

Or, almost.

Under normal circumstances the law would go into effect on June 7th, with wedding celebrations starting immediately. However, if Washington, D.C.-based National Organization for Marriage is able to qualify a referendum for the November ballot by June 6, they will strip that joy and right from loving Washington couples because the law will be put on hold until the results of the November, 2012 election are known.

So tomorrow we begin the business of carrying the bride of equality over the referendum threshold. But today, we CELEBRATE the passage of the bill by bipartisan votes of 28-21 in the Senate and 55-43 in the House, and the awesome leadership of Gov. Gregoire, Senator Ed Murray and Representative Jamie Pedersen!

Washington United for Marriage has a list of places around the state to celebrate Monday night. Don’t miss this opportunity to celebrate this hard-earned victory and enjoy the company of others who believe that all Washington families should be treated equally under the law.

A few pictures from the Capitol, courtesy Equal Rights Washington Facebook page:

“John and Rudy have waited 53 years for today. They are where they belong at the front of the line. 53 years is one long engagement.” “Waited 27 years for this.”

From the live feed:

Gov. Gregoire getting huge love from all. It is signed!

Governor Gregoire’s statement on the occasion of signing the marriage bill, below the fold. The full text of her signing speech can be found here.

Gov. Gregoire signs historic legislation on marriage equality in Washington state

OLYMPIA – Before hundreds of marriage equality advocates and supporters, Gov. Chris Gregoire today signed historic legislation that makes Washington the 7th state in the nation to allow same-sex couples to marry.

“As governor for more than seven years, this is one of my proudest moments,” Gregoire said. “And most surely today is a proud day in the history of the Legislature and the state of Washington. It is a day historians will mark as a milestone for equal rights. A day when we did what was right, we did what was just, and we did what was fair. We stood up for equality and we did it together – Republicans and Democrats, gay and straight, young and old, and a variety of religious faiths. I’m proud of who and what we are in this state.”

Washington now joins Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, New Hampshire, Vermont, and New York plus the District of Columbia in allowing same-sex marriages.

“I’m proud that our same-sex couples will no longer be treated as separate but equal,” Gregoire said. “They will be equal. I’m proud that children in our schools and neighborhoods will not have to wonder why their loving parents are considered different than other loving parents. I’m proud of parents who have fought so fiercely for the rights of their much-loved gay and lesbian children. And I’m proud that children who discover they are gay and lesbian can feel good about themselves.”

“To Senator Murray and Representative Pedersen, thank you for your skilled leadership as prime sponsors of marriage equality legislation,” Gregoire continued. “We have been on this journey together. And the intelligence, care and patience you brought to this struggle over so many years defines what it means to be a great legislator.”

Gregoire’s signature on Senate Bill 6239 completes a state journey that began in 2006, when the governor signed legislation banning discrimination based on sexual orientation in employment, housing and other areas. In 2007, Substitute Senate Bill 5336 created the state domestic partnership registry. Gregoire signed House Bill 3104 in 2008 which added additional rights and responsibilities relating to issues such as dissolutions, community property, estate planning, taxes, court process, conflicts of interest for public officials and guardianships. Legislation signed in 2009 requires state agencies to ensure that all privileges, immunities, rights, benefits, or responsibilities granted to married individuals are granted to an individual who is or was in a state registered domestic partnership.

“I thank the Legislature not only for making history, but in the way they did it,” Gregoire said. “Proponents and opponents were incredibly respectful. Marriage equality is a difficult issue, and feelings run high on both sides. Yet, our Legislature conducted itself professionally and respectfully throughout.”

Press release from Washington United for Marriage:

Gov. Chris Gregoire Signs Historic Marriage Law in Washington State

Passage caps tenure of progress under Governor’s leadership

OLYMPIA – Washington United for Marriage, a broad statewide coalition of organizations, congregations, unions and business associations that will work to obtain civil marriage for lesbian and gay couples in Washington State in 2012, today praised Gov. Chris Gregoire for signing SB 6239, the marriage equality legislation, into law.  Her action follows bipartisan votes in the Washington House and Senate.

“We thank Gov. Gregoire for her tremendous leadership in passing this landmark legislation,” said Lacey All, Chair of Washington United for Marriage.  “From her moving remarks endorsing the legislation to her unwavering courage and commitment throughout the legislative process, the Governor has been a key ally in forming the bipartisan coalition that passed this bill.  Without her years of dedication to equality, Washington’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community would not enjoy antidiscrimination protections, domestic partnerships or marriage equality.  We owe her our heartfelt gratitude and sincerest thanks.”

“We’re so excited to see this day finally come in Washington state,” said Lisa Brodoff and Lynn Grotsky, longtime partners from Olympia.  “We’ve been watching for years as the momentum for marriage equality has spread across the country, and now we’re able to experience the overwhelming joy that so many others have felt.  We know this fight is not yet over, but we’ll stand with our friends, family and neighbors to make sure that marriage equality is defended at the ballot in November.”

“With the advancement of equality symbolized by the Governor’s signature today, I truly believe that God is smiling on the people of Washington state,” said Rev. Mark Travis of Congregational Church on Mercer Island.  “For too long, faith has been used as a means to divide us as a community, state and nation – a proposition I patently reject.  My faith leads me to believe, as the Governor does, that we are One Washington, a state where everyone is treated with equal dignity and respect despite any differences we may have.”

Opponents wishing to challenge the new law would have until June to collect 120,557 valid signatures – the amount required to place a referendum on the November 2012 ballot.  Failure to do so would result in lesbian and gay couples being able to legally marry immediately following the passage of the deadline.  If the referendum qualifies for November’s ballot, same-sex couples would not be permitted to marry until the outcome of that vote is known.

At this time, six states plus the District of Columbia recognize marriage for same-sex couples under state law: Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, and Vermont.  Nine states—California, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Washington—provide same-sex couples with access to the state level benefits and responsibilities of marriage, through either civil unions or domestic partnerships.  Same-sex couples do not receive federal rights and benefits in any state.

Washington United for Marriage is a coalition of organizations, congregations, unions, and business associations working together to secure civil marriage for loving, committed gay and lesbian couples. To find more information and learn how you can help, visit WashingtonUnitedForMarriage.org. Engage with Washington United for Marriage on social media at Twitter.com/WA4Marriage and at Facebook.com/WashingtonUnited.

Laurel Ramseyer

Laurel Ramseyer

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