Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire (D) announced that she will be introducing legislation to legalize same-sex marriage during a press conference this morning, saying, “now it’s our time, it’s this generation’s call to end discrimination.” Linking the fight for marriage equality to racial justice, Greogire debunked common arguments against gay and lesbian unions and described domestic partnerships — which the state allows — as “discriminatory” and “separate but equal”:
GREGOIRE: Some say domestic partnerships are the same as marriage. That’s a version of the discriminatory, separate but equal argument of the past. For decades that argument was used to keep African Americans separate in schools, at their apartments, at drinking fountains. After all, the argument went, those separate places were just as good. But we, Americans knew, separate is not equal and finally the law caught up. [...]
We need to ask ourselves, how would it feel, how would it feel to be a child of a gay couple? How can we tell those children that their parents’ love is seen as unequal under Washington law and that their families are different? We must tell these children and their families that they’re every bit as equal and important as any other family in Washington state.
Gregoire described her own seven-year evolution on the issue as challenging and revealed that her children, “the children of friends,” and friends pushed her to support full marriage equality. “And let me just tell you, I feel so much better today than I have for the last seven years,” she added. Watch a compilation of her remarks:
Gregoire also pointed to Massachusetts’ experience with same-sex marriage, noting that none of the “doomsayers predictions” have come true. “In fact, the people of that sate are raising their children, coping in this economy, working to make a better world just like Washingtonians,” she said. “The economy of Massachusetts has benefited and continues to benefit from the change in the law.”
The Washington bill includes language that will allow religious institutions to “exercise their freedom of religion” and the state “will not tell them who to marry,” Greogire said. “Religions can decide what they want to do, but the state cannot be in the business of discrimination.”
Sen. Ed Murray (D), a supporter of the measure, said that proponents are “a few votes short in the Senate” but remain confident they will “find those votes in this session.” If Washington successfully legalizes same-sex marriage, it will become the seventh state in the nation with marriage equality.