Gov. Chris Gregoire's office sent out a brief press release this afternoon announcing that she's holding a press conference tomorrow to "address the issue of marriage equality." And the Seattle Times is reporting this afternoon that sources say Gregoire will come out in favor of gay marriage legislation. Sources tell us the same.
Two gay legislators, State Sen. Ed Murray (D-43, Capitol Hill) and state Rep. Jamie Pedersen (D-43, Capitol Hill), are planning to introduce a gay marriage bill this session—as Murray has done without consequence or fanfare several years running now. (Murray did pass a gay rights bill in 2006 prohibiting discrimination. And beginning in 2007, Pedersen and Murray passed a series of domestic partnership rights and responsibilities bills. The three bills withstood a repeal referendum, R-71, in 2009 after the third and final bill passed finally granting domestic partners all the rights and responsibilities that straight married couples have.)[pullquote]Sources close the bill told PubliCola that Gregoire "is there" on the gay marriage and that she will come out in support of it officially tomorrow.[/pullquote]
This year's effort to pass a marriage bill is different than Murray's previous attempts because Murray and Pedersen are being backed up by a well-funded grassroots organizing campaign that plans to build public pressure on lawmakers to pass the bill.
Sources close the bill told PubliCola that Gregoire "is there" on the gay marriage and that she will come out in support of it officially tomorrow. And indeed, the language in her brief press release, "marriage equality," is taken straight from the gay rights' movement's vocabulary.
But when we sat down with her just three weeks ago she was circumspect about the bill.
Here's a transcript of our conversation with her:
PubliCola: Do you support legislation legalizing gay marriage?
Gregoire: [Legislators are] going to have to get me a bill. They haven’t been able to yet. I need to see what it says. What’s it going to do with domestic partnerships? What’s it going to do with domestic partners who come into the state of Washington?
PubliCola: Have you told [state] Sen. Ed Murray and [state] Rep. Jamie Pedersen [the gay state legislators leading the charge for marriage equality] those concerns?
Gregoire: Absolutely. In October. They’re still working on it. They’re working on it.
PubliCola: If they can get a bill you feel legalizes gay marriage, but doesn’t undermine the domestic partnership rules, would you sign that?
Gregoire: Then you’ve got to deal with the churches. I told them that in October as well. I’m not going to tell the churches … I’m not get involved in their decision whether they’re going to perform marriages or not. I don’t think the state ought to get involved in that. They [Murray and Pedersen] agreed, and they said they were going to get me a bill, and they have not yet gotten me a bill.
PubliCola: So, a bill that deals with the churches exemption, doesn’t undermine domestic partnerships, legalizes gay marriage…
Gregoire: I need to see the bill.