[JURIST] Washington Governor Christine Gregoire [official website] signed legislation [HB 6239] Monday legalizing same-sex marriage [JURIST backgrounder], making Washington the eighth jurisdiction in the US to offer marriage to same-sex couples. Washington had previously granted expanded domestic partnership rights [JURIST report] rather than full marriage or civil union rights to same-sex couples. Gregoire’s signature completed a campaign for marriage rights that started in 2006. Gregoire, a strong personal advocate of same-sex marriage, stated [press release] after signing:
As governor for more than seven years, this is one of my proudest moments. 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.
Opponents of same-sex marriage have promised to challenge the imminent law with a referendum, similar to Proposition 8 [text, PDF; JURIST news archive] in California. The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit [official website] ruled [JURIST report] earlier this week that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional. If a ballot initiative in Washington is not achieved, same-sex marriages could begin as early as June.
The Washington state House of Representatives approved the bill to legalize same-sex marriage last Thursday while the Senate passed the bill [JURIST reports] two weeks ago. New Jersey is also considering legalizing same-sex marriage soon, although it currently has a civil union system in place. In November, a lawsuit [JURIST report] was allowed to continue in New Jersey, which seeks declaratory and injunctive relief against the state civil union law as a contravention of both the Fourteenth Amendment [Cornell LII backgrounder] and the New Jersey State Constitution. Same-sex marriage has been legalized in New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire and the District of Columbia [JURIST reports]. The case for same-sex marriage was recently made by JURIST contributor Kimberly Bennett in Judicial Activism and the Recognition of Same-Sex Marriage [JURIST op-ed].