Gregoire signs civil marriage law – opposition plans to file ballot challenge

Gov. Chris Gregoire signed into law the bill authorizing civil marriage for same-sex couples, SB6239, at 12:06 p.m. Monday, making Washington the seventh state with such a law. It may not take effect on June 7, as scheduled, however, as a referendum challenge is in the wind.

  • Tuesday, February 14, 2012 10:07pm
  • News

The following is a release from David Ammons, communications director for the Office of the Secretary of State.

Gov. Chris Gregoire signed into law the bill authorizing civil marriage for same-sex couples, SB6239, at 12:06 p.m. Monday, making Washington the seventh state with such a law.  It may not take effect on  June 7, as scheduled, however, as a referendum challenge is in the wind.

Several hundred cheering partisans, and one heckler, crowded into the ornate State Reception Room for bill-signing ceremonies.

Sen. Ed Murray and Rep. Jamie Pedersen, both Seattle Democrats from the 43rd District, the prime sponsors, spoke before Gregoire took the podium to loud cheers and the chant “Gregoire! Gregoire! Gregoire.’  She was flanked by many of the legislators who voted for the measure during the past two weeks. Crowds lined the balconies and steps of the Rotunda, watching on closed-circuit TV.

Gregoire, emotional at times, said it was a proud and defining moment for civil rights in Washington, and predicted that if the measure is placed on the ballot as a referendum, voters will uphold it, as they did R-71, the “everything but marriage” law in 2009.

Her statement:

Challengers attempted to file a ballot challenge before Gregoire had acted on the bill, and we asked them to come back later in the day.  Sponsors planned to return at 3:30 p.m. at the state elections division headquarters at 520 Union St., near the Capitol.

It takes 120,577 valid signatures of registered Washington voters to secure a place on the ballot. The Elections Division suggests submitting at least 150,000 to cover invalid or duplicate signatures.  The signature deadline is June 6.  If signatures are turned in, that suspends the new law from taking effect as scheduled on June 7.  If the challengers don’t turn in enough signatures, the marriage law would go into effect then. If the challengers qualify for the ballot, then the law would stay on hold until the Nov. 6 election and certification on Dec. 6.

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