Monday, February 13, 2012

Gov. Gregoire Signs Marriage Equality Legislation

Above: After the bill signing, Representative Jaime Pederson, left, and Senator Ed Murray celebrate as they are handed two pens used by Governor Chris Gregoire to sign the marriage equality bill into law today.

by Janine Unsoeld

Valentine's Day came early for marriage equality supporters as Washington State Governor Chris Gregoire today signed historic marriage equality legislation.

Hundreds of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender activists and their allies, some representing business, faith, and labor groups, filled the Capitol Building to witness the event.

As Gregoire spoke, the crowd often interrupted with claps and chants of 'thank you' and 'four more years.' She focused her comments on the celebration today, and not the legislation's legal challenges ahead.

“As governor for more than seven years, this is one of my proudest moments,” Gregoire said before the bill signing. “And most surely today 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 variety 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,” Gregoire said. “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. And I’m proud that children who discover they are gay and lesbian can feel good about themselves.”

Washington now joins Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, New Hampshire, Vermont, and New York plus the District of Columbia in allowing same-sex marriages.

Above: Governor Chris Gregoire signs marriage equality legislation today.

Above: Representative Jaime Pederson, left, and his partner Eric scramble to collect their four sons for a photo opportunity with Governor Gregoire. In his comments prior to the bill signing, Pederson said, "Years later, our kids will look back and ask what all the fuss was about...."

"Our Stories Are Our Power" - A continuing series of stories and profiles of GLBT community members, advocates and allies

Above: Regional ecumenical leaders gather for a photo opportunity before the bill signing. The Reverend Nigel Taber-Hamilton, left, represents the Episcopal Church of Western Washington, that includes the Diocese of Olympia. He is a participant of the Faith Action Network (FAN), which is organizing Interfaith Advocacy Day on February 14 at United Churches of Olympia, 110 11th Ave. SE, Olympia. For more information, go to

Above: John McCluskey, standing, and Rudy Henry, of Tacoma, have been partners for 53 years. "It's been a really long engagement," joked McCluskey. 'A piece of paper isn't going to change much (for us), but we've been waiting a long time. I never thought this day would come in my lifetime. Today is a great, historic day....'" said McCluskey.

Above: After the official bill signing, Governor Chris Gregoire signed Pride flags for Olympia GLBT activists Anna Schlect, left, Matthew Shrader, and Naki Stevens. Shrader, a student at South Puget Sound Community College, is co-chair of Capital City Pride 2012.

Above: Members of the Greater Seattle Business Association (GSBA), including GSBA executive director Louise Chernin, left, were excited to witness the bill signing. "It's a great's amazing to be a part of history," said Chernin. "Everyone benefits when everyone wins....Of course this is a great opportunity for weddings, but it goes deeper than that. It's going to impact the economy in so many ways - there will be a ripple effect. Everyone's going to have a chance to grow their business."

Above: Lacey residents Lynn Grotsky, left, and Lisa Brodoff have been partners for 31 years. Grotsky, a social worker and counselor in general practice, and Brodoff, a law professor at Seattle University School of Law and one of The Righteous Mothers, the musical group, were litigants in the first "out" second-parent adoption case in Washington State. Their battle in the late 1980's was among the first such cases in the nation. "It took two years but we won," said Brodoff. The couple have two children, a daughter, Evan, 25, and a son, Micha, 22. "Now they can both walk us down the aisle!" cheered Brodoff.