Washington Governor Christine Gregoire [official website] on Wednesday certified [press release] the results of Referendum 74 [text] which has legalized same-sex marriage [JURIST backgrounder] in the state. The referendum gave Washington voters the choice to accept or reject the state same-sex marriage legislation [SB 6239, PDF], which was signed [JURIST report] by the governor in February. Opponents of the law conceded defeat [JURIST report] last month after the vote count indicated that the measure to legalize same-sex marriage finally passed with approximately 52.55 percent [materials] of the statewide vote. Gregoire indicated on Wednesday that same-sex couples would be able to obtain marriage licenses in the state within a few hours of her certification of the results. With Maine and Maryland, the results made Washington the third state [JURIST report] to legalize same-sex marriage through referendum last month, and the ninth state overall, including New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire and the District of Columbia [JURIST reports].
In June Preserve Marriage Washington [advocacy website] presented more than 200,000 referendum signatures to put Referendum 74 on the ballot, submitting the signatures and thus suspending the legislation one day before [JURIST reports] the law was scheduled to take effect. Gregoire signed the legislation less than a week after the state House of Representatives approved the bill, subsequent to the Senate having passed [JURIST reports] it two weeks before that. Gregoire has been a consistent advocate for gay rights during her tenure as governor. In April 2011 she signed a bill [JURIST report] that recognized as legal same-sex marriage licenses from other states. In March 2007 Gregoire signed legislation [JURIST report] that recognized domestic partnership status for same-sex couples.