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Gregoire signs same-sex marriage bill: 'We stood for equality' | Slideshow
Washington has become the seventh state to legalize same-sex marriage.
Gov. Chris Gregoire signed Senate Bill 6239 into law Feb. 13 at the Legislative Building in Olympia. Hundreds of supporters packed the State Reception Room, along with a lone heckler, cheering the governor as well as state lawmakers who backed the bill. Hundreds more waited in the building's rotunda. (See slideshow here)
"We stood for equality and we did it together: Republicans and Democrats, gay and straight, young and old, and a number of our faith organizations," Gregoire told the crowd. "I'm proud that our same-sex couples will no longer be treated as separate but equal. They will be equal in the great state of Washington."
Among the first in line to see the bill signing were Federal Way residents Rachel and Sandy Smith-Mosel. The lesbian couple have been married three times: once in Sandy's native country of Canada, once in Rachel's native state of California, and once in a ceremony by their rabbi. Now the couple looks forward to making their marriage official in Washington.
"This is really about preserving families and strengthening the family unit," said Rachel Smith-Mosel, mother of three birth children and two adopted foster children. "It's about keeping us together physically as a family and spiritually. Now we're not domestically partnered for very much longer. We will be a married family. We've always been a family in the state of Washington's eyes because they've given us children to adopt and raise on behalf of the state."
State Sen. Tracey Eide (D-Federal Way) was the only District 30 lawmaker to support the bill, which passed 28-21 in the Senate. The House passed the bill 55-43, with District 30 State Reps. Mark Miloscia (Democrat) and Katrina Asay (Republican) voting against it.
"It's a very personal decision," Eide told The Mirror after the governor signed the bill. "Everybody knows where I stand on this. I'll stand to the bitter end against discrimination."
A provision in the bill allows for religious organizations to choose whether they will marry gay couples. Another provision ensures that religious organizations will not be compelled by the law to engage in marriage counseling or similar services for same-sex couples.
The bill is slated to take effect June 7. A referendum will require 120,577 valid signatures by June 6 in order to suspend the new law. Later on Monday, Joseph Backholm of Preserve Marriage Washington filed Referendum 74 seeking to overturn the law, according to the Secretary of State's office. The referendum will require 120,577 valid signatures by June 6 in order to suspend the law and send it to voters in November.
In related news, Republican presidential contender and former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa) is scheduled to appear in Olympia and Tacoma today. He is expected to address Washington's same-sex marriage law.
Other states that have passed legislation for same-sex marriage are New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont and New Hampshire, along with the District of Columbia. In New Jersey, the state Senate passed a bill Monday to allow same-sex marriage, which Gov. Chris Christie has promised to veto.
Click here to see a photo slideshow from Monday's action in Olympia. Click here to watch a video from the scene, showing everything from the governor signing the bill to feedback from Federal Way residents to a couple of hecklers.