Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire To Endorse Marriage Equality

Washington Governor Chris Gregoire (D)

Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire (D) is expected to announce her support for legislation that would expand marriage to gays and lesbians, Reuters is reporting — just days before a group of lawmakers introduce a marriage equality measure in the state legislature:

The speculation is that she’ll support marriage equality and we are looking forward with great anticipation to her speech,” said Josh Friedes, director of marriage equality for Equal Rights Washington. “She has demonstrated great leadership in LGBT civil rights issues and we are confident she’ll continue this tradition of leadership,” Friedes said.

In May 2009, Gregoire signed a bill putting before the voters a measure granting domestic partners the same rights as married couples as long as they did not conflict with federal law. That ballot measure, known as Referendum 71, was approved by voters later in 2009.

The legislative efforts is spearheaded by gay lawmakers, Sen. Ed Murray (D) and Rep. Jamie Pedersen (D), who have introduced marriage equality legislation in years past and passed laws prohibiting discrimination against LGBT people and establishing domestic partnerships. Murray and Pedersen announced this year’s effort in the aftermath of New York’s successful push for marriage equality in June and have received backing from “a well-funded grassroots organizing campaign that plans to build public pressure on lawmakers to pass the bill.”

Interestingly, Gregoire remained circumspect about her support for marriage equality during an interview just tree weeks ago, saying that she would need to see the bill before committing herself to the concept. ” [Legislators are] going to have to get me a bill. They haven’t been able to yet. I need to see what it says. What’s it going to do with domestic partnerships? What’s it going to do with domestic partners who come into the state of Washington?,” she asked.