Gregoire proposes bill to legalize gay marriage

Gov. Christine Gregoire of Washington

“It’s time, it’s the right thing to do,” Gov. Christine Gregoire said Wednesday as she introduced legislation to legalize same-sex marriage in the state.

It was clearly an emotional day for Gregoire, who is in her final year in office and who up to now has publicly opposed gay marriage.  Indeed, she let it be known that since being elected she has struggled privately with this issue.

“I have not liked where I have been for seven years,” she said Wednesday at an event with several gay marriage supporters to announce her proposal.  “I have sorted it out in my head and in my heart, and what’s more important to me is, I believe in equality and respect of all citizens.”   

Her struggle, she said, was her religion. She’s a practicing Catholic, a church that doesn’t support gay marriage. 

The bill that she is proposing would allow same sex couples the right to get marriages licenses in the state.

In 2009, she supported a ballot measure deemed “everything but marriage” that ensured same-sex domestic partners the same rights as heterosexual married couples. That's the law now.

“Some say domestic partnerships are the same as marriage,” the governor said Wednesday.  “That’s a version of the discriminatory separate but equal argument of the past.”

The governor announced what she called historic legislation to legalize same-sex marriage.

“Our gay and lesbian families face the same hurdles as heterosexual families—making ends meet, choosing what school to send their kids to, finding someone to grow old with, standing in front of friends and family and making a lifetime commitment,” Gregoire said.

“For all couples, a state 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 civil law.”

But opponents are clearly gearing up for a fight against gay marriage. 

“Marriage is about pro-creation,” state Sen. Dan Swecker, R-Centralia, said. “Marriage is about producing and providing for the next generation. That’s only done between one man and one woman.”

Supporters admit they don’t yet have the votes in Olympia to pass a same-sex marriage bill.  They will need at least a few Republicans to sign on, since some of the more conservative Democrats are still opposed to gay marriage.

If the bill is approved by the Legislature, Washington would become the seventh state in the country to legalize gay marriage.

The Legislature begins its 2012 session on Monday and is targeted to adjourn around March 8.