Gov. Chris Gregoire today threw her full support behind efforts to allow gay couples to marry in Washington, ending years of opposing such a move.
“I have not liked where I’ve been for several years,” she said, adding the decision marks the culmination of a personal journey. “This was all about my personal faith. This was all about my religion. It is the right thing to do and it is time.”
Dozens of gay marriage supporters crowded into the governor’s conference room to hear the announcement. They broke into extended applause when Gregoire finished a 10-minute speech.
You can read the speech here.
When Gregoire departed, four gay lawmakers – state Sen. Ed Murray, D-Seattle, and state Reps. Jamie Pedersen, D-Seattle, Marko Liias, D-Edmonds and Rep. Laurie Jinkins, D-Tacoma – expressed confidence they can round up enough votes to pass a gay marriage bill in the Legislature.
But Murray made clear it won’t pass in the Senate – where Democrats hold a 27-22 edge — without Republican votes. He said a couple GOP members are supportive but wouldn’t say exactly how many or identify them.
He did say at least he he could get Republican votes for this issue where no Republican would back bills to raise revenue.
“Suddenly gay marriage becomes easier than raising taxes,” he said with a laugh.
Pedersen said if a law is passed, gay marriage supporters must prepare to defend it from repeal via a referendum.
There will certainly be an attempt by opponents.
“It would be so easy to get 150,000 signatures,” said Joseph Backholm, executive director of the Lynnwood-based Family Policy Institute of Washington.
Would they succeed?
“Our grassroots coalition gets together every Sunday,” he said, a reference to church congregations throughout the state. “If we are successful in communicating to our folks, we’ll win. (The other side) knows there are more of us.”