Note: This article has been edited to correct an earlier version that indicated the bill’s language against marriage “discrimination” by religious organizations was in the final bill. However, that language was dropped prior to final passage. We regret the error.
February 13, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Gov. Christine Gregoire of Washington State has signed into law a gay “marriage” bill.
Gregoire, a lame-duck Democrat governor who proposed the bill earlier this year, celebrated the end of defining marriage as between a man and a woman as she signed the bill on Monday.
“I’m proud our same-sex couples will no longer be treated as separate but equal,” she said.
The bill makes Washington the sixth U.S. state to redefine marriage, in addition to the District of Columbia.
Local religious leaders have been particularly alarmed about the bill because it will force facilities owned by churches that are regularly used for marriages to be offered to homosexual couples.
The bill text originally stated that religious organizations that provide “accommodations, facilities, advantages, privileges, services, or goods related to the solemnization or celebration of a marriage” to the public must offer all those goods for use to homosexual couples seeking marriage or else face a penalty for discrimination. The version of the bill that passed dropped the qualification, allowing religious groups to retain marriage facilities for heterosexual unions.
Prior to the change, evangelical Pastor Joseph Fuiten last month said that the bill’s “discrimination” language puts “virtually every church in Washington” under legal threat should they abide by the teachings of their faith on the nature of marriage.
The bill is expected to take effect no earlier than June.
The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) has vowed to initiate a referendum effort to bring the new law before voters to decide on the ballot.
“NOM will not stand by and let activist politicians redefine marriage, the bedrock of civilization, without voters having a say,” said NOM president Brian Brown on Jan 23. “Just as we mounted a People’s Veto in Maine and were responsible for qualifying Proposition 8 to the ballot in California, we will make sure that voters in Washington have the ability to decide the definition of marriage for themselves.”