Moral Low Ground

Civil Liberties

‘The Moral High Ground’: Washington Same-Sex Marriage Bill Signed into Law by Governor Chris Gregoire

Washington state Governor Chris Gregoire signed a bill legalizing same-sex marriage today, making the Evergreen State the seventh in the union to grant gays and lesbians marriage equality. Despite the victory, opponents of the measure have vowed to defeat it at the ballot box this November.

The Associated Press reports that Gov. Gregoire, a Democrat, signed the bill in a packed Capitol flanked by LGBT advocates and at least 40 lawmakers from the House and the Senate.

“I’m proud our same-sex couples will no longer be treated as separate but equal,” she declared.

But same-sex couples won’t actually be able to marry until the law goes into effect on June 7. Opponents of marriage equality say they are preparing for an epic fight to defeat the measure. If they collect enough signatures, they can force a referendum on the matter on this November’s ballot. A separate initiative was filed that could also potentially lead to the overturning of the bill, SB 6239.

For now, there is jubilation among Washington’s LGBT community and supporters of equality.

Sen. Ed Murray (D-Seattle), who is gay and has sponsored marriage equality measures for years, told the cheering crowd at the Capitol: “My friends, welcome to the other side of the rainbow. No matter what the future holds, nothing will take this moment in history away from us.”

The haters were also present, although in much smaller numbers. Bob Struble, a 68-year-old from Bremerton, shouted “Do not betray Christ!” as Gov. Christie signed the bill into law. He was removed from the room and warned by security.

“We’ll be doing everything we can to overturn this unfortunate law,” he told the AP.

Audrey Daye of Olympia cried as she watched the governor sign the bill. Daye, who grew up with two moms, brought her seven-year-old son with her to witness history.

“I am so proud that our state is on the right side of history,” she told the AP.

GOP presidential hopeful Rick Santorum, a staunch opponent of marriage equality and gay rights,  just happened to be in town today as Washington became the seventh state to legalize marriage equality. The other six are: New York, Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont as well as Washington, DC and the Squamish and Coquille Native American tribes.

New Jersey’s state senate today approved a bill that would legalize same-sex marriage, but that state’s Republican governor, Chris Christie, has vowed to veto the measure.

Maryland and Maine have also taken steps toward marriage equality.

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