Gov. Chris Gregoire and state Sen. Ed Murray, two key figures in Washington’s move to legally recognize same-sex marriages, are hailing President Obama’s statements today that his views have evolved and he also favors recognition that goes beyond civil unions.
A statement from state Senate Democrats is
Murray had sponsored the legislation, requested by Gregoire in January, to recognize gay marriages, and the bill passed into law with surprising ease in Olympia this year with a few Republicans joining majority Democrats.
Religious activists objecting to the laware running a referendum campaign to force the law onto the fall ballot
asking the public decide to vote either for gay marriage or against it. Activists face a June 6 deadline for collecting signatures or the law takes effect, making Washington the seventh state including the District of Columbia where gay marriage is legally recognized.
Failing that, an initiative campaign led by conservatives also is active and is facing a July signature deadline – but twice the required signatures.
Gov. Chris Gregoirewent through her own evolution in thinking about same-sex marriage,
announcing in early January she would champion the legislation.
Obama’s announcement comes
That decision immediately raised questions about how it will affect the presidential race against apparent Republican nominee Mitt Romney who opposes recognition of same-sex marriages. But in Washington, Gregoire’s decisioncould be seen as synching up with shifting voter attitudes captured in last fall’s Washington Poll.
UPDATE: Joseph Backholm, leader of the campaign to qualify Referendum 74 for the ballot, said Obama’s announcementis designed to distract from North Carolina's
vote to amend its state constitution to recognize only heterosexual marriages and no other relationships.
“While the thrill of the President’s announcement will apparently make those trying to redefine marriage feel better temporarily, they must still confront the reality of the fact that thirty-two states have now voted that marriage should be between a man and a woman, without a single exception,” Backholm wrote.
In recent days,Sen. Murray was showing patience with Obama on the issue.
The issue has implications for the governor’s race with Democrat Jay Inslee clearly in favor of the gay marriage law and Republican Rob McKenna saying that he personally does not favor it but thinks voters should decide it.
In the attorney general’s race, both Republican Reagan Dunn and Democrat Bob Ferguson favor the gay-marriage law.
UPDATE on original 3:50 p.m. post adds comments from Joseph Backholm.