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Washington legalizes same-sex marriage

Washington Governor Christine Gregoire [official website] signed legislation [HB 6239] Monday legalizing same-sex marriage [JURIST backgrounder], making Washington the eighth jurisdiction in the US to offer marriage to same-sex couples. Washington had previously granted expanded domestic partnership rights [JURIST report] rather than full marriage or civil union rights to same-sex couples. Gregoire's signature completed a campaign for marriage rights that started in 2006. Gregoire, a strong personal advocate of same-sex marriage, stated [press release] after signing:

As governor for more than seven years, this is one of my proudest moments. 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.
Opponents of same-sex marriage have promised to challenge the imminent law with a referendum, similar to Proposition 8 [text, PDF; JURIST news archive] in California. The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit [official website] ruled [JURIST report] earlier this week that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional. If a ballot initiative in Washington is not achieved, same-sex marriages could begin as early as June.

The Washington state House of Representatives approved the bill to legalize same-sex marriage last Thursday while the Senate passed the bill [JURIST reports] two weeks ago. New Jersey is also considering legalizing same-sex marriage soon, although it currently has a civil union system in place. In November, a lawsuit [JURIST report] was allowed to continue in New Jersey, which seeks declaratory and injunctive relief against the state civil union law as a contravention of both the Fourteenth Amendment [Cornell LII backgrounder] and the New Jersey State Constitution. Same-sex marriage has been legalized in New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire and the District of Columbia [JURIST reports]. The case for same-sex marriage was recently made by JURIST contributor Kimberly Bennett in Judicial Activism and the Recognition of Same-Sex Marriage [JURIST op-ed].

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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