‘The Moral High Ground’: Washington Governor Chris Gregoire Comes Out in Support of Same-Sex Marriage
Washington state’s Democratic governor says she supports same-sex marriage and has vowed to propose legislation that would legalize such unions.
The Seattle Times reports that Gov. Chris Gregoire has pledged to introduce a same-sex marriage bill during the upcoming legislative session, which begins next Monday. The governor has long supported giving LGBT couples the same rights as heterosexual spouses, but her ‘coming out’ in support of full marriage equality marks the culmination of a seven-year inner journey towards greater acceptance and justice for all Washingtonians. As a Catholic, Gregoire had to overcome her religion’s vehement opposition to marriage equality.
Gregoire’s evolution can be seen through statements she’s made on the subject of same-sex marriage over the years.
While running for governor in 2004, she opined: “I do not believe that Washington state is ready to support gay marriage.”
In 2008, she said: “To me, the state’s responsibility is to absolutely ensure equality. The other is a religious issue, and I leave it to the churches to make that call about marriage.”
Speaking Wednesday surrounded by same-sex marriage supporters, Gregoire said she’s “sorted out” her position on gay marriage “in my head and in my heart”: “I have been on my own journey. I will admit that. It has been a battle for me with my religion. I have always been uncomfortable with the position that I have taken publicly. And then I came to realize the religions can decide what they want to do but it is not OK for the state to discriminate.”
Gregoire says that like her views, she believes the public’s opinions on same-sex marriage have also evolved.
She asserted that same-sex marriage ought to be legalized for the sake of couples:
“When someone asks me about my marriage to Mike, I don’t tell them I have a contract with legal rights. I don’t even think about that. What I say is I love my husband. I’m in a 36-year committed relationship. … That’s what marriage really means to human beings,” she said.
“They (gays and lesbians) have to have the same ability to say it’s love, it’s commitment, it’s partnership, it’s responsibility. It’s not a contract. They want to be able to stand in front of their friends and express their love just like Mike and I did 36-plus years ago. To deny that equality is just wrong.”
That ought to be self-evident, but the forces of superstition and bigotry will surely resist her efforts to achieve equality for all Washingtonians. Greg Magnoni, a spokesman for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Seattle, told the Seattle Times that the Church would be “looking for the Legislature to uphold the current legal definition of marriage as between a man and a woman.”
“The position of the Catholic Church is clear,” he added.
State Rep. Matt Shea (R-Spokanne Valley) believes the state has more pressing issues to worry about.
“I don’t see why we’re bringing this up now,” Shea told the Seattle Times. “It appears to be diverting our attention away from the budget crisis we have in this state.”
But as far as those who support marriage equality are concerned, nothing is more pressing than ensuring that all Americans enjoy equal rights.
Currently, only New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, Iowa, the District of Columbia and the Coquille and Squamish Native American tribes– the latter which is located in Washington state– have legalized same-sex marriage in the United States.
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