Washington state Governor Chris Gregoire [official website] announced [press release] Wednesday that she plans to introduce legislation that would not deny marriage licenses to couples based on their sexual orientation and would permit same-sex marriages [JURIST news archive] to be performed in Washington. If the legislation is passed, Washington would be the seventh state in the nation to legalize gay marriage, including Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire, New York and Washington, DC [JURIST reports]. Gregoire spoke [transcript] about the many reasons that she is advancing this legislation:
For all couples, a marriage license is very important. It gives them the right to enter into a marriage contract in which their legal interests, and those of their children if any, are protected by well-established law. ... Our gay and lesbian families face the same hurdles as heterosexual familiesmaking ends meet, finding time for career and family, raising their children and saving for college.Gregoire also equated comments that domestic partnerships being the same as marriage to the "separate but equal" discrimination arguments made in previous civil rights eras.
Gregoire has been a consistent advocate for gay rights [JURIST news archive] during her tenure as governor. In April she signed a bill [JURIST report] that recognized as legal same-sex marriage licenses from other states. In March 2007 Gregoire signed legislation [JURIST report] that recognized domestic partnership status for same-sex couples. Same-sex marriage remains a contentious issue even after the passage of similar laws in other states. The new same-sex marriage law in New York is currently being challenged [JURIST reports] in that state's court system.