Washington state allows gay marriage
The ebb and flow battle over gay marriage continued this week. Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire signed a new law making the state the seventh in the nation to legalize same-sex marriage, but the measure is likely headed to a referendum challenge. New Jersey’s legislature stands poised to adopt a similar law, but Gov. Chris Christie wants a public vote on the issue and has promised to veto any measure from the legislature, according to AP.
The move in Washington is the latest in a progression of measures in that state expanding domestic rights to gays and lesbians. Domestic partnership laws have been in effect there since 2007, and in 2009 the state passed an “everything but marriage” measure that survived a referendum challenge.
Opponents say the new law undermines traditional marriages and are confident the state’s voters will reject it. They already have filed a referendum to challenge the law. If they collect the required voter signatures by June 6, the issue will go on the ballot in November. Opponents also have filed a measure in the legislature that could lead to overturning the new law.
Still, pending further action, Washington joins six other states – New York, Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont – and Washington, D.C., in allowing gay and lesbian couples to wed. Gregoire hailed the new law as “a day when we did what was right, we did what was just, and we did what was fair,” according to AP.
In New Jersey, the state Senate passed a bill recognizing same-sex marriages, reversing a decision two years ago when the Senate rejected it. The state Assembly is expected to approve the measure on Thursday, but the governor says he will veto the bill because voters should decide such fundamental change. Gay-rights supporters say they will try to gather enough legislative support to override the governor’s veto.