In my seven-year tenure as governor of the great state of Washington, yesterday was one of the best. That's when I signed the bill providing marriage equality for all Washingtonians, and it is the day when our state said, quite simply, that love is love.
I'm proud that Washington became the seventh state in the nation to provide civil marriage for same-sex couples, and that it stood up for what is right and just.
I'm proud that our same-sex couples will no longer be treated as separate but equal. They will be equal. I'm proud that the children of same-sex couples will no longer have to wonder why their parents' love is treated differently than that of other loving families.
I'm proud of the parents who have fought fiercely for the rights of their much-loved gay and lesbian children. And I'm proud that those who are growing up and realizing they are gay or lesbian can see that they, too, can look forward to the day when they make that important vow in front of their friends and family to the person they love.
As a parent, there is no greater joy than seeing your grown child walk down the aisle and make a lifetime commitment to the person they love. In Washington state, the words "I do" will now carry the same meaning for all families.
Like laws in other states, our legislation provides broad protections for religious organizations, religiously affiliated schools, and social service organizations. While no religion will be required to perform a marriage against its beliefs, the state will no longer discriminate in the issuing of marriage licenses.
This legislation makes us stronger. The stories of everyday citizens who give back to their communities, support one another in their relationships, care for aging parents, raise healthy families, and save for their children's futures are legion.
A young man, who as a senior in high school has already received his associate's degree in computer science, recently emailed me that his biggest obstacle in life is not his passion or intellect. It is his sexuality. As he so thoughtfully wrote, "One day, as this nation continues to change, people like me will not have to be extraordinary to appear ordinary."
That's as it should be. At a time when our families face many challenges -- keeping a job, paying the bills, saving for their children's education 00 worrying about who you can marry should not be one of those challenges. Marriage is important to everyone.
In Washington state it is important enough that this bill passed with a resounding "yes" that was achieved only with bipartisan support. Republicans and Democrats both stood up for what is right. Leaders from both parties, gay and straight, made impassioned, eloquent speeches conveying that marriage equality is not a partisan value or a religious value, but a human value. Major corporations such as Microsoft, Starbucks, and Nike endorsed the bill and said, rightly, that diverse workforces are key to economic success.
But this bill is much more than a piece of legislation. It is about telling couples, some who have been together for 20 or 30 years or more, that a lifetime commitment matters. That their love matters. That their families matter.
It's that simple. And today, Washington state is a better place.