Washington state governor Chris Gregoire signs gay marriage law
OLYMPIA, Washington (AP) - Gov. Chris Gregoire has signed into law a measure that legalises same-sex marriage in Washington state, which now joins several other states that allow gay and lesbian couples to wed.
Mr Gregoire and Secretary of State Sam Reed certified the election on Wednesday afternoon, as they were joined by couples who plan to wed. The law doesn't take effect until Thursday, when gay and lesbian couples can start picking up their wedding certificates and licences at county auditors' offices. King County, the state's largest and home to Seattle, and Thurston County, home to the state capital of Olympia, will open the earliest, at 12:01 a.m. Thursday, to issue marriage licences.
Because the state has a three-day waiting period, the earliest that weddings can take place is Sunday. Same-sex couples who previously were married in another state that allows gay marriage, like Massachusetts, will not have to get remarried in Washington state. Their marriages will be valid here as soon as the law takes effect.
"This is a very important and historic day in the great state of Washington," Mr Gregoire said before signing the measure that officially certified the election results. "For many years now we've said one more step, one more step. And this is our last step for marriage equality in the state of Washington." Last month, Washington, Maine and Maryland became the first states to pass same-sex marriage by popular vote. They joined six other states - New York, Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont - and the District of Columbia that had already enacted laws or issued court rulings permitting same-sex marriage.