Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire (D) signed a bill into law on Monday that allows same sex couples to marry, making Washington the seventh state to grant same sex couples all the marriage rights available to heterosexual couples.

"As governor for more than seven years, this is one of my proudest moments," Gregoire said. "And most surely today is a proud day in the history of the Legislature and the state of Washington. It is a day historians will mark as a milestone for equal rights. A day when we did what was right, we did what was just, and we did what was fair. We stood up for equality and we did it together – Republicans and Democrats, gay and straight, young and old, and a variety of religious faiths. I’m proud of who and what we are in this state."

The bill passed in the House on February 8, by a 55 to 43 vote. It passed in the Senate on February 1, by a 28 to 21 vote.

"I thank the Legislature not only for making history, but in the way they did it," Gregoire added. "Proponents and opponents were incredibly respectful. Marriage equality is a difficult issue, and feelings run high on both sides. Yet, our Legislature conducted itself professionally and respectfully throughout."

Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, New Hampshire, Vermont, New York, and the District of Columbia have all legalized same sex marriages.

"I’m proud that our same-sex couples will no longer be treated as separate but equal," Gregoire said. "They will be equal. I’m proud that children in our schools and neighborhoods will not have to wonder why their loving parents are considered different than other loving parents. I’m proud of parents who have fought so fiercely for the rights of their much-loved gay and lesbian children. And I’m proud that children who discover they are gay and lesbian can feel good about themselves."

Those who oppose same sex marriage have vowed place a repeal of the law on the November ballot and are hoping to delay implementation of the law in the meantime.

"Washington State has truly separated God from government,” state Rep. Jim McCune (R) said after the House passed the bill. "God would hold us all accountable for our actions here today."

The law does not take effect until June 7.

Photo credit: Alex Handy