Washington Governor Signs Gay Marriage Bill

Ana Abraham

There are now seven states in the union that support equal marriage rights. Washington State joined the ranks of states that have legalized same-sex marriage on February 13, following in the footsteps of New York, Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont. Same-sex marriage is also legal in Washington D.C.

Even though Washington Governor Chris Gregoire signed the proposal into law last week, the rights held within don’t take effect until June 7. Unfortunately, the necessary interim leaves plenty of time for opponents to rally against the law. A group called Preserve Marriage Washington filed their referendum later that same day. They have until June 6 to collect over a hundred thousand signatures petitioning same-sex couples’ right to marry in the state. If they succeed the right of marriage will be put on hold for Washington State’s gay and lesbian population until the issue is decided by a vote in November. New Jersey and Maryland are currently in the process of deciding on the issue, and Maine might see a proposal for the legalization of gay marriage on the ballot in November.

When the bill was signed in Olympia, it was witnessed by hundreds of supporters and around 40 supporting politicians. When Governor Gregoire signed it, she was met with loud cheering. Many prominent corporations also back same sex marriage, including Nike Inc. and Starbucks Corporation.

Rick Santorum, who is one of the Republican presidential candidates for 2012, went on the record in opposition to the bill’s passage. He told his supporters to “continue the fight,” because the equal rights victory in Washington was not the “final word” on the subject. North Carolina and Minnesota are currently awaiting votes on amendments to their state constitutions that will ban gay marriage.

Meanwhile, gay rights supporters are celebrating the events in Washington. Even though the right to marry is not yet set in stone, victories still deserve to be treated as such. An openly gay Democratic Senator from Seattle, Ed Murray, said “no matter what the future holds, nothing will take this moment in history away from us.”