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CNN "CNN Newsroom" - Transcript

Interview

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KAYE: But getting the bill passed, it may not be a walk in the park. Though the state house and Senate are controlled by Democrats, there are some conservative Democrats who side with Republicans who oppose the bill.

Governor Gregoire joins us now.

Governor, you said yourself that you struggled with the issue of same-sex marriage for several years being a practicing Catholic before deciding to go ahead and introduce this legislation. What made you change your mind?

GREGOIRE: You know, I really had to sort out my faith and my responsibility as both a three-term attorney general and now as governor. And I came to the understanding that I could honor and respect the freedom of religion of all faiths in Washington to decide who they want to marry. But I could not allow the state to discriminate when they issue a license for someone to get married. So my seven-year journey has been one that has been hard for me. My state's been on a journey. In 2009 our voters stepped up and passed domestic partnerships. But that alone doesn't make people equal, so it is time for equality in marriage in Washington State.

KAYE: Your push on this has really lit up the Internet. What has been the reaction, as far as you can tell?

GREGOIRE: You know, the e-mails that I have received, the telephone calls at the front desk have not just been from my own state but around the country and around the world. And what I hear is equality is absolutely necessary. Finally someone is recognizing how important it is separate but equal that it doesn't work in the '60s and racial discrimination. It's been a showing of what has been to me very surprising but wonderful support and particularly by loving children that we be recognized as any other couple or family.

KAYE: There are some conservative Democrats that don't support same-sex marriage. Do you think that you have the support that you need?

GREGOIRE: Well, I'm pretty assured that we do have enough votes in our house of representatives. It's going to be a struggle in my Senate, to be honest with you. But I will tell you, I think the voters of the state of Washington and there's polling that says that the voters are there.

So it's time for my legislatures to catch up with my voters but I also think it's time for all of my generation to listen to our children to listen to grandchildren who will tell you what is it that you get about inequality that makes it right when it comes to gay couples but somehow you've got up and understood it and fought for it when it came to racial discrimination in the '60s and as I hear their voices, they are absolutely right. We have to have equality for these children in my home state. It's right. It's the right time. I hope my legislature will get it done.

KAYE: Why did you wait until your last year in office to make this move?

GREGOIRE: You know, we have been through a journey. In 2006, for the first time, we were able under me to get a bill that said no more discrimination and housing and employment and in the next year we took the step to domestic partnership and expanded it in the year after. And then in 2009 the voters oppressed it. It's our moms, our dads, it's our children, it's our aunts, our uncles, our friends, our neighbors. And so we say they are fighting for the same things we are. They are fighting for democracy in our military. Their families that are fighting for their children. They are looking for a good job and how to make ends meet. Why do we not recognize the quality of their loving relationship like we do any other couple in my state?

So I knew the issue was going to be confronting me this legislative session. I've had to come to grips with it. It has been a seven-year personal battle for me and I will tell you I feel so much better today than I have over the last seven years because I'm fighting for the right thing, which is equality in my home state. That's the right thing for the people of my state. I frankly think it's the right thing for America.

KAYE: Governor, thank you so much. We'll continue to watch your fight there in your state.

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