Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire on Monday signed legislation making the state the seventh in the United States to permit same-sex couples to marry.
Here is the official transcript of Gregoire's speech:
Good morning. Welcome! Thank you, Ed and Jamie.
We are here to make history in Washington State!
I’m about to sign into law a bill making us the seventh state in the nation to give our gay and lesbian citizens marriage equality.
I’ll explain and sign the bill in a few minutes, but first let me say that as governor for more than seven years, this is a very proud moment...
...Most surely it is a proud day in the history of the Legislature and the state of Washington.
It is a day historians will mark as a milestone for equal rights...
A day when we did what was right, we did what was just, and we did what was fair.
We stood up for equality and we did it together – Republicans and Democrats, gay and straight, young and old, and a number of religious faiths.
I’m proud of who and what we are in this state.
...I’m proud that our same-sex couples will no longer be treated as separate but equal. They will be equal.
I’m proud that children in our schools and neighborhoods will not have to wonder why their loving parents are considered different than other loving parents.
I’m proud of parents who have fought so fiercely for the rights of their much-loved gay and lesbian children...
I’m proud that children who discover they are gay and lesbian can feel good about themselves...
...Like the 16 year old girl who wrote to tell me her sexual orientation made her life hard, and that she had considered suicide...
...But marriage equality would make her stronger and allow her to live and to dream of the day she would not have to get on bended knee and say: “Will you civil union me” but instead could say: “Will you marry me?”
I’m proud we live in a state where a six-year-old boy came to my office one day with his two Moms to deliver me a note written in neat little block letters that said:
“Please change the law so we can marry anyone we love.”
I’m proud to live in a state where two women e-mailed me to say they have been together for 20 years this month, and can now look forward to the day they can vow their commitment and love in front of family and friends right here in their beloved Washington.
I’m proud to live in a state where, just last Thursday, a gay high-school senior wrote me to say he already has an associate’s degree in computer science, and his future is so bright......Except for one thing!
In his e-mail, he wrote:
“My biggest obstacle in life is clearly not my passion or intellect. It is my sexuality. I have grown up in a world where people are not accepted for who they are...
“So I want you to know that I salute you and your government, because one day, as this nation continues to change, people like me will not have to be extraordinary to appear ordinary.”
I am so very proud of our young people – including my two daughters – who tell us marriage equality is the civil-rights issue of their time, and who – pollsters say – are helping my generation to catch up.
I’m proud of so many who led the way – not just this year, but every hard step that came before.
And I’m proud of our legislators of both parties who stood up for what’s right. Who fought against discrimination. Who took a personal journey – as I did – and voted their conscience.
I thank the Legislature not only for making history, but in the way they did it. Proponents and opponents were thoughtful and respectful! Marriage equality is a difficult issue, and feelings run high on both sides.
Yet, our Legislature conducted itself professionally and respectfully. Thank you, Speaker Chopp and Representative DeBolt in the House. Thank you, Majority Leader Brown and Senator Hewitt in the Senate. On this issue, you and your members showed the world the best of Washington State democracy.
And thank you to Reps. Jinkins, Moeller, Liias, and Upthegrove for your hard work.
And finally to Sen. Murray and Rep. Pedersen, thank you for your skilled leadership as prime sponsors of this marriage equality legislation.
We have been on a long journey together.
And the intelligence, care and patience you brought to this struggle over so many years defines what it means to be a great legislator.
We began in 2006 when we passed a law – too long in the making – to ban discrimination against members of our L-G-B-T community.
We said yes in 2007 and again in 2008 when we created and expanded domestic partnership rights.
Our voters said yes in 2009 to R-71 granting full domestic partner rights – and did so by a vote of 53 percent to 47 percent, the first time voters in any state upheld a domestic partnership law.
And now in 2012 our Senate said yes to this marriage equality bill by 28-21, and the House by 55-43.
The bill I’m signing today is simple and clear:
First, it gives same-sex couples the same right to a marriage license as heterosexual couples.
Second, churches or their affiliates do not have to perform same-sex marriages. The law provides an exemption and immunity for religious organizations, religiously affiliated educational institutions, ministers, priests, imams (ee-MOMS), rabbis and similar officials of religious organizations.
Third, no religious organization is required to provide accommodations, facilities, advantages, privileges, services, or goods related to the solemnization or celebration of a marriage.
In short, this bill preserves freedom of religion! For our churches – absolutely nothing changes!
Here in Washington, we’ve taken a long, difficult journey, and now the final step – the right step. We’ve finally said yes to marriage equality!
We join six other states and the District of Columbia in allowing same-sex marriage, and their experience proves that “the sky will fall” rhetoric is simply not true.
A recent University of New Hampshire poll found that a majority of New Hampshire citizens want to keep their marriage equality law partly because they realized it makes no difference in their own lives.
In Massachusetts, an economic study found that same-sex marriage improved the economy, and so did a similar study about same-sex marriage in Iowa.
The truth is, respectful, welcoming societies make a stronger economy. Thank you to companies like Microsoft and Starbucks, Google and Nike, Vulcan, Real Networks, Group Health, and Concur – who have already said yes to marriage equality in Washington.
And if asked, I believe the voters of Washington will say yes to marriage equality.
I believe Washingtonians will say yes because a family is a family – all facing the same challenges: Can we keep a roof over our heads, keep our jobs, and provide for our children’s health, safety, education and happiness?
I believe Washingtonians will say yes because it is time to stand up for our sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, moms and dads, friends, and that couple just down the street.
I believe Washingtonians know it is time…It is time to give loving gay and lesbian couples the right to a marriage license.
It is time to allow them to invite family and friends to witness their marriage.
I ask all Washingtonians to look into your hearts and ask yourselves:
Isn’t it time?
Isn’t it time to tell the children of same sex couples that their parents are as loving and important as any others?
Isn’t it time to support strong families, and make Washington stronger too?
And isn’t it time to send a message to the world that Washington believes in equality for all –
I believe if we ask ourselves those questions – our answers will be yes – marriage equality is right for Washington State. And the time is now.
Over the last month thousands of people have called and written from around our state, our nation and the world to say thank you to me. But I have to say that as I look out over this room, you are the ones to thank.
...You who have been fighting for this day for years...
...You took time to attend and testify at legislative hearings...
...You who fought for your gay and lesbian children...and other family members…
...You with your own loved ones are giving back to your communities and making our state stronger.
This is your time. I’m just proud to stand with you at this great moment in our history. I’m proud to sign this bill bringing marriage equality to the great State of Washington.
And now I’ll sign the bill.