Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire is publicly supporting legalizing same-sex marriage in her state, saying Wednesday that a legalization bill that will be introduced next week.
The Democrat previously had supported efforts to expand the state’s current law on domestic partner rights for gay couples, but had not come out in favor of full marriage rights.
The state’s underlying domestic partnership law, which the Legislature passed in 2007, provided hospital visitation rights, the ability to authorize autopsies and organ donations, and inheritance rights when there is no will. Under state law, senior heterosexual couples can register as domestic partners as well.
In 2009, the Legislature passed, and voters later upheld, a bill that greatly expanded those rights and was known as the “everything-but-marriage” bill. Nearly 19,000 people in Washington are registered as domestic partners.
Lawmakers return to the Capitol on Monday for the start of a 60-day legislative session.
Democratic Sen. Ed Murray of Seattle, a gay lawmaker who has spearheaded past gay rights and domestic partnership laws in the state, said the underlying domestic partnership law has helped lay the groundwork for full marriage. Murray and Rep. Jamie Pederson, D-Seattle, said a bill would be introduced next week.
They said that they would not attach a referendum clause to the bill, which would require the public to ultimately approve the measure if passed by the Legislature. (AP)