In a move unlikely to earn her a mention in Profiles in Courage, Gov. Chris Gregoire now wants to legalize gay marriage in Washington. "I can't sit here any longer and say it's OK to discriminate," Gregoire said at a news conference in Olympia today. "My church, all the churches, can exercise their freedom on deciding who to marry, but the state of Washington cannot, cannot, engage in discrimination."
Gregoire's decision to seek legislation that would allow Washington to become the seventh state to grant same-sex marriage comes at a time when she has very little left to lose politically.
Considering that's she's a lame duck chief executive governing a state's whose electorate is showing serious signs of Gregoire fatigue -- she likely would not have won a third term had she chosen to run again -- support for a gay marriage bill wouldn't suggest her backbone has suddenly grown stronger. Besides, other progressive bastions like Iowa have had it on the books for years.
Before going for full marriage rights for gay and lesbian couple, Gregoire did support the state's current law on domestic partner rights that the Legislature passed in 2009. The measure was known as the "everything but marriage" bill.
There are an estimated 19,000 people in Washington who are registered as domestic partners.
The legislation is expected to face an easy ride in the state House, but things could get dicey in the senate, where Democrats hold a 27-22 majority -- but where some conservative Democrats have joined forces with Republicans in opposition to the state's domestic partnership law.
The other states who have legalized gay marriage, in addition to Iowa, are New York, Vermont, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Connecticut.