Washington becomes the 7th state to recognize same-sex marriages. All eyes now turn to New Jersey, which may soon become the 8th.
On Monday, Washington Governor, Chris Gregoire, signed into law, the bill to recognize same-sex marriages, making the state the 7th in the country to achieve marriage equality. Opponents of the new law have already vowed to collect signatures to initiate a referendum that would seek to overturn it. As was the case in New York, the passing of the bill in the state assembly required the support of several Republican legislators who expressed their own personal and impassioned reasons for supporting the bill.
On the same day, the New Jersey State Senate passed a bill legalizing same-sex marriages. Republican Governor Chris Christie has already vowed to veto any such bill that comes to his desk because he feels that such an important decision should be made directly by the people via referendum. Basically, Christie is saying that he knows his party is on the wrong side of history, but that he does not want to take the blame when schmoozing with other Republicans nationally – especially if he is considering a run for national office in 2016 or beyond. Depending on how you look at it, he’s either playing it safe (for the sake of the wrong and increasingly irrelevant audience), or being a coward.
In 2006, the New Jersey State Supreme Court ruled that gay couples must be granted the same legal rights as heterosexual couples (minus the term, marriage). In the five years since that ruling, none of the apocalyptic scenarios popularized by marriage equality opponents have materialized. There is clearly momentum building on a broad and historic set of changes that now seem inevitable in many, if not most, parts of the country. Years from now, we will hopefully look back on this and marvel at how such an obvious matter of human dignity and civil rights remained unfulfilled for so long.