Washington State Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(OLYMPIA, Wash.) -- Washington state on Monday became the seventh state to allow same-sex marriages.

Democratic Gov. Chris Gregoire, who was once on the fence about the issue, signed the measure into law, declaring that Monday "is a day that historians will mark as a milestone for equal rights."

The Evergreen State joins New York, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Iowa, as well as the District of Columbia, in permitting gay and lesbian couples to wed.

If all goes according to plan, same-sex partners can begin marrying in Washington on June 7.

But a potential monkey wrench could be thrown into the mix.

Opponents have vowed to let Washington residents determine the future of the law by putting it up for a vote in November.  If they collect 120,000 signatures by June 6, gay and lesbian couples won’t be able to wed until the referendum is decided in 10 months

Washington, which passed a Defense of Marriage Act in 1998, has been more open toward gay rights since then, instituting a Domestic Partnership law five years ago.  Polls have also shown that a majority of residents would not vote to overturn a same-sex marriage law passed by the Legislature.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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