Updated: Gregoire announces legislation for same-sex marriage in Washington

By | January 4, 2012 | Comments

Gov. Chris Gregoire just announced that she’s introducing legislation to legalize same-sex marriage in Washington. 

Watch the full video of the press conference here.

“As a wife, a mother, a student of the law and a lifelong Washingtonian committed to equality and justice … it is time, it is the right thing to do and I will introduce the bill to make it happen,” she said.

After the governor spoke, she took questions from the press as supporters in the room clapped and cheered. Sen. Ed Murray was asked whether the Senate has the votes to pass the bill. He said the Senate is a few votes short. Gregoire interrupted: “We got a very important vote today. We’ll get the rest we need to get it to my desk.”

Asked about the political reality of getting the bill through in a short session, she said everyone is capable of multitasking. “This is about our values. This is extremely important in the history of our state,” she said. “They’re going to get the job done.”

Gregoire was asked what the title change will mean — from domestic partnerships, which are currently legal, to marriage. She said when she thinks of her marriage, she doesn’t consider it a contract. “It’s love, it’s responsibility,” she said, not just a contract. “To deny that equality is just wrong.”

She said this has nothing to do with elections, politics — or her decision not to run for re-election. She said in the past, she’s questioned same-sex marriage because of her religion. But she’s come to understand that individual religions can decide whether to recognize each marriage, but the state shouldn’t discriminate.

With that, she ended the Q&A period as supporters clapped. Then, several legislators, including Sen. Ed Murray and Rep. Jamie Pedersen, took the podium to answer additional questions.

First: There isn’t going to be an emergency clause in the bill — that means that it can go to referendum. “I think we need to be prepared” with the idea that supporters will need to fight it at the ballot, Pedersen said.

“This bill will not pass unless there is a bipartisan vote for this bill,” Murray said. He said he’s having conversations with legislators in every district, “but again, it’s about where people are personally.” He said he’s optimistic that the bill will pass this session and he knows of “a few” Republicans in the Senate who support for the bill.

As for the timing: “The time is just right,” said Rep. Marko Liias.

When asked what would happen with existing domestic partnerships, Murray and Pedersen said they haven’t ironed out all the language just yet. “We’re still in some discussion with the governor’s office,” Pedersen said, but the goal is ending the inequality in the existing law.

There were a lot of questions about how this legislation would politically affect the effort to balance the budget, which may involve an effort to raise taxes. The legislators repeatedly said in different ways that this is an issue of equality and shouldn’t have anything to do with budget talks.

“Suddenly, gay marriage has become easier than raising taxes,” Murray said, to laughs.

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