Washington’s Chance to Make History
by Washington State Governor Chris Gregoire
July 22, 2012
This fall we have the chance to make history. But like all things historic, it won’t be easy.
On November 6, Washington has the opportunity to become the first state in the nation whose voters pass a marriage equality bill at the ballot box. I’m doing everything I can to ensure we are leading the way. I hope you are too.
Signing the marriage equality bill this spring was one of the proudest days of my life. The love, joy, and excitement in that room were electric. For the first time our LGBT Washingtonians had, within their reach, the right to marry. Now, with the issue before voters, that momentum must be maintained.
We cannot say to one couple that their love is deserving of marriage and to another that their love should only be called a partnership. “Separate but equal” is never equal. Children of same-sex couples should not grow up wondering why their family is treated differently from other families.
Parents who have fought fiercely for the rights of their much-loved Gay and Lesbian children should not have to worry that their children will be treated differently. As a mother, I can tell you that there is no prouder moment than watching your children grow up, fall in love, and commit to that love in front of their families and friends. I want that same joy for every parent and every child.
The time to make history is now! In Olympia, passing the marriage equality bill was historic. The bill passed with a resounding “Yes” that was achieved only with bipartisan support. Republicans and Democrats both stood up for what is right. Leaders from both parties, Gay and straight, made heartfelt, eloquent speeches conveying that marriage equality is not a partisan value, but a human value.
That same question will now be asked of voters.
Like laws in other states, our legislation gives broad protections for religious organizations, and for religiously affiliated schools and social service organizations. While no religion will be required to perform a marriage against its beliefs, the state will no longer discriminate in the issuing of marriage licenses.
Stories abound of everyday citizens who give to their communities, support one another in their relationships, care for aging parents, raise healthy families, and save for their children’s future.
A young man, who as a high school senior has already earned an associate degree in computer science, e-mailed me that his biggest obstacle in life is not his passion or intellect. It is his sexuality. As he so thoughtfully wrote, “One day, as this nation continues to change, people like me will not have to be extraordinary to appear ordinary.”
That’s as it should be. At a time when our families face many challenges – keeping a job, paying the bills, saving for their children’s education – worrying about whom you can legally marry should not be one of them. Marriage is important to everyone.
But in the end it’s about much more than a piece of legislation. It is about telling couples, some of whom have been together 20 or 30 years or more, that a lifetime commitment matters. That their love matters. That their families matter.
It is time. It is time to make Washington the first state where the voters say “Yes” to equality and “Yes” to our families and friends.
This article first appeared in the Seattle Gay News, June 22, 2012
Reprinted with permission.