Governor Chris Gregoire of Washington wishes she'd supported marriage equality for gays and lesbians years ago -- and she hopes President Obama evolves in his thinking soon. But she respects the president’s “personal journey” and asked people to “give him the time” to see it through.
Having introduced a marriage equality bill several weeks ago that now reportedly has the votes in the state legislature to pass, Gregoire, in an interview on my radio program on Sirius XM OutQ, also criticized Governor Christie of New Jersey for urging marriage equality be voted on at the ballot without a vote of the elected representatives.
The governor also spoke of the heartfelt and emotional response she’s received from the public to her decision, including from a gay teen who was contemplating suicide.
Regarding her own journey Gregoire said: “I wished I could have come to the point that I am today six years ago, seven years ago, five years ago. But it took me a journey and for that, I’m sorry that it took me as long as it did. But it’s genuine. It’s not about politics. It’s very heartfelt. it’s about my [Catholic] faith and I have struggled with it.”
She’s enormously moved by the response she’s received. “Probably the most moving -- I’ve received thousands of emails and letters and telephone calls,” she said. “And the one that just hit my heart was a sixteen year old who said, ‘I’ve thought about suicide, and now that you’ve come out as strong as you have, I feel good about myself. And one day I will not go on bended-knee and ask someone to join me in a domestic partnership -- I’ll ask them to marry me.’ That’s the exact thing that moved me to where I am and that’s only right for our children in this state and for their parents.”
Of President Obama still “evolving” on marriage, as he has put it, disappointing many LGBT supporters who want him to come out fully for equality, Gregoire asked for patience: “I think, I hope, the president will evolve in his thinking and his personal journey but I have to respect the journey he’s on. He has done, in my opinion, a great job as commander-in-chief, with respect to our military, as a voice for anti-discrimination for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people of this nation. I would ask our friends, as a big an ask as it is, give him the time to see the journey through. I believe he will get to where I found myself, [New York] Governor Cuomo found himself. But people need to give him the opportunity to get there.”
Gregoire responded to Gov. Christie’s controversial suggestion that marriage equality go to the ballot in New Jersey without a vote by the representatives by discussing the politics in her own state, where ballot initiatives are commonplace and easy for citizens to launch.
“If someone out there in the community believes it should go to a ballot there’s a mechanism by which they can do that readily in our state, and do it all the time, and I respect that and believe the people of the State of Washington will stand up," she said. "But meanwhile, today, in my state I am urging every one of my senators and representatives to stand up, take the vote, do the right thing. Bear the responsibility, do not just send it to the ballot.”
Hear the full interview below: