By Tracy Simmons
In an emotive ceremony today, Gov. Chris Gregoire signed legislation making Washington the seventh sate to legalize gay marriage.
“Today is a day that historians will mark as a milestone for equal rights,” she said to a hailing crowd.
The House passed the bill with a 55—43 vote last week, one week after the Senate approved it.
The gay marriage law is slated to take effect June 7. Opponents, however, are determined to overturn the measure by collecting enough signatures to send it to the ballot box. If they collect more than 120,000 names by June 6, which they likely will, then the law will be put on hold until the November election.
“If asked, the voters of Washington State will say yes to marriage equality…I believe Washingtonians know it’s time to give our gay and lesbian couples the right to a marriage license,” Gregoire said. “Isn’t it time to support strong families and make Washington stronger? Isn’t it time it time to send a message all across the world that we, in this state, stand proudly for equality?”
A recent poll by the University of Washington Center for Survey Research found that if the issue does go to voters, most would support it. Of those surveyed 55 percent said they would uphold the same-sex marriage law if it were challenged by referendum and 38 percent said they would vote against it.
Washington has had a domestic partnership law since 2007 and in 2009 an “everything but marriage” expansion that was upheld by voters.
Also on Monday the New Jersey State Senate passed gay marriage legislation. Gregoire said she will make an appeal to the state’s governor, Chris Christie, who has said he will veto the bill.