Washington will become the seventh state in the U.S. to allow same-sex couples to marry if the state's governor, Christine Gregoire, has her way.
Gregoire announced today (4 January) that she will introduce marriage legislation in the upcoming legislative session beginning on Jan. 9.
If approved, Washington would join Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, New Hampshire, Vermont, New York as well as the District of Columbia in allowing same-sex marriages.
'It's time, it's the right thing to do, and I will introduce a bill to do it,' Gregoire said in a statement. 'Our gay and lesbian families face the same hurdles as heterosexual families -- making ends meet, choosing what school to send their kids to, finding someone to grow old with, standing in front of friends and family and making a lifetime commitment.'
'For all couples, a state marriage license is very important,' she added. 'It gives them the right to enter into a marriage contract in which their legal interests, and those of their children if any, are protected by well-established civil law.'
The governor had previously been in favor of legal rights for same-sex couples but she had never before publicly endorsed gay marriage until today's announcement.
Washington has a series of LGBT equality laws already on the books. In 2006, a law was passed that prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation in employment, housing, lending and insurance.
In a series of laws passed after that, the rights of same-sex couples were expanded culminating the so-called 'everything but marriage law' passed in 2009.