Gov. Gregoire proposes bill to legalize same-sex marriage

In this 2008 photo, three Federal Way families with their children are seen at a rally for marriage equality in Seattle, following the passage of a gay marriage ban (Prop. 8) in California. - Courtesy photo
In this 2008 photo, three Federal Way families with their children are seen at a rally for marriage equality in Seattle, following the passage of a gay marriage ban (Prop. 8) in California.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

Gov. Christine Gregoire announced Jan. 4 that she will introduce a bill to legalize same-sex marriage in Washington.

“It’s time, it’s the right thing to do, and I will introduce a bill to do it,” Gregoire said. “I say that as a wife, a mother, a student of the law, and above all a Washingtonian with a lifelong commitment to equality and freedom. Some say domestic partnerships are the same as marriage. That’s a version of the discriminatory ‘separate but equal’ argument.”

If Gregoire’s bill is passed, Washington would become the sixth state to allow same-sex marriages, joining Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Vermont and New York. Washington, D.C., also allows same-sex marriages.

“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.”

Rachel Smith-Mosel, a Federal Way resident who’s married to her partner under Canadian and California law, said the governor’s announcement was a long time coming.

“It’s a long time we’ve been waiting for equality under the law,” she said. “We are like any other committed married couple in Washington.”

Smith-Mosel, who has adopted children and foster children, said Gregoire’s announcement was a big positive to her children.

“They felt she was speaking to them,” Smith-Mosel said. “Our kids were elated, and we were elated. This is protection and equality under the law. No one is losing. We’re only gaining more stability for our families.”

According to the governor’s office, this new bill would be the latest in a long line of advancements Gregoire has made for same-sex couples in the state. Dating back to 2006, Gregoire has signed legislation or introduced bills that eliminated workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation, created a domestic partner registry, and broadened the rights of gay people and gay couples within the arena of civil law.

“Throughout our history, we have fought discrimination,” Gregoire said. “We have joined together to recognize equality for racial minorities, women, people with disabilities, immigrants. Please join today to support equality again in our great state. It is the right thing to do and it is time.”

Gregoire’s announcement sparked a quick response from Republican lawmakers in the state, and a vocal reverend from Kirkland.

State Sen. Dan Swecker of Rochester feels Gregoire’s introduction of this bill, during what is anticipated to be a contentious legislative session with fights over the state budget looming, will only increase that divisiveness. Rev. Ken Hutcherson of the Antioch Baptist Church in Kirkland said he plans on mobilizing a group to resist this bill, saying he doesn’t feel the law should be passed by the Legislature or put to a vote of the people.

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