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Originally published Monday, February 13, 2012 at 3:46 PM

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Washington makes history with marriage equality

Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire signed historic legislation creating marriage equality for gays and lesbians and their families. The day is a celebration of the courage and tenacity of advocates and lawmakers.

Seattle Times Editorial

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WASHINGTON gathered together Monday as Gov. Chris Gregoire signed historic legislation to legalize same-sex marriage in the state. A great day for all committed couples and loving families.

The pride, joy and tears in the state reception room were a celebration and culmination of decades of patient work and risk-taking by gays and lesbians and their supporters, and the legislators who cast courageous, deciding votes.

Washington voters in 2009 demonstrated their support for the state's domestic-partnership law with a strong endorsement of the referendum that put the question before them. With an admirable impatience, the effort was launched to move beyond "everything but marriage."

Washington becomes the seventh state in the nation to give gays and lesbians marriage equality. A proud moment for the state, Gregoire said, by doing "what was right, just and fair."

Her "leadership, passion and courage" were celebrated by state Sen. Ed Murray, D-Seattle. Gregoire praised Murray and state Rep. Jamie Pedersen, D-Seattle, for their key roles in guiding the legislation. The governor also lauded the respectful, bipartisan debate and support.

The rights, responsibilities and obligations of same-sex couples have been put into law. Two signature campaigns loom this spring. Ignore them both. Voters and lawmakers have spoken.

One campaign has about four months to gather 120,000 signatures to present voters with a referendum on the measure Gregoire signed into law. Another would seek to define marriage as between one man and one female.

"It is signed," the governor declared to raucous cheers. It is settled as well. Washington has a law that respects religious freedom and celebrates the family values that empower the state.

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