Washington seventh state to legalize gay marriage

February 13, 2012

In an emotional ceremony, Gov. Chris Gregoire signed legislation that
makes Washington the seventh state to legalize gay marriage. "Today is a
day that historians will mark as a milestone for equal rights," she
said to an enthusiastic crowd on February 13 at the state capitol in
Olympia.

The House passed the bill with a 55–43 vote five days
earlier, one week after the Senate approved it. The gay marriage law is
slated to take effect June 7.

Opponents, however, are determined
to overturn the measure by collecting enough signatures to send it to
the ballot box. If they collect more than 120,000 names by June 6, as
expected, the law will be put on hold until the November election.

The
state's Catholic bishops have led the opposition to the same-sex
marriage law, saying that only traditional marriage upholds "the
stability of family life in which a man and a woman conceive and nurture
new life" as the basis for "a sound and functioning society."

"If
asked, the voters of Washington State will say yes to marriage
equality. . . . I believe Washingtonians know it's time to give our gay
and lesbian couples the right to a marriage license," said Gregoire, a
Catholic.

A recent poll by the University of Washington Center for
Survey Research found that if the issue does go to the voters, most
would support it. Of those surveyed, 55 percent said they would uphold
the same-sex marriage law if it were challenged by referendum and 38
percent said they would vote against it. Washington has had a domestic
partnership law since 2007, and in 2009 an "every­thing but marriage"
expansion of the law was upheld by voters.  —RNS