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Public Statements

CNN "CNN Newsroom" - Transcript

Interview

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HOLMES: And that was Washington Governor Chris Gregoire, speaking right after she signed the same-sex marriage law yesterday. She also called it one of her proudest moments as governor. As she said, Washington is the seventh state to allow same-sex marriages. The others are Vermont, Iowa, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and New York. New Jersey's legislature is one step away. And it is also being debated in Maryland. Also in the Illinois state house.

But let's get back to Washington state and what the decision means for them. Joining me now on the phone is the governor.

Governor, you said that this is the civil rights issue of the younger generation. How do you look at what your state is doing? Part of a pioneering movement? How do you with view it?

GREGOIRE (via telephone): You know, for me, it's very much like my youth. And the civil rights movement of my youth was that of racial inequality in America. And while we are by no means done with that movement, the fact of the matter is, as passionate as my generation felt about equality there, I have found, in my daughter's generation, the same compassion and passion to make sure that there's equality when it comes to same-sex marriage. So I think that by far and away the younger generation is trying to let the older generation in America know where the right thing is for us to go as a country.

HOLMES: Governor, as you know, New Jersey's state senate approved same-sex marriages just yesterday. The state assembly is going to take it up. Of course, the governor says she's going to veto it. Let's just play a little bit about part of his reasoning.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: I think this is not an issue that should rest solely in my hands, in the hands of the senate president or the hands of the speaker or the other 118 members of the legislature. Let's let the people of New Jersey decide what's right for the state. Let's put the question of same-sex marriage on the ballot this fall in the hands of the people. The time when the most people will be voting in a presidential election year.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOLMES: Governor Gregoire, you know, is it something that should be put to a referendum, or do you think this is a matter of leadership? What would you say to Governor Christie? GREGOIRE: Well, actually, this was probably the bigger issue in my senate. We worried whether we could get the 25th vote for marriage equality. We not only got 25, we got 28. What was closer was the issue of whether it was referred to the ballots or the voters. And what I shared with those who ultimately said no to that measure was, we are elected to make decisions. And we are here to represent and ensure that all Washingtonians are treated equally. So we need to step up, take the vote, make the decision. That's what we're here to do.

And sometimes, historically, the majority has not protected the minority. As legislators, as governor, that is our responsibility. So we were able to ensure that the vote was taken here, the decision was made here, and now there are those who promise to put it on the ballot in the fall. I don't fear that. I'm not afraid of it. And that's their right. But meanwhile, our legislature has proudly stood up to its responsibility.

HOLMES: Are you going to call Governor Christie, literally?

GREGOIRE: Well, I wrote him a letter at the end of January, because I know him, and he and I get along very well. I reached out to him to tell him I had been on my own personal journey, because while I was governor, I'm also a catholic. And I shared with him the remarks that I gave when I announced my position. And it took me three months to write those remarks. And I told him it represented the culmination of my journey. And I indicated to him I would be more than happy to talk with him about how I reached it and how proud I was and how much better I felt about myself after seven years of dealing with the issue.

So, assuming the assembly passes it in New Jersey, I would really very much like to reach out and at least share with the governor what we've done here and what a proud day it was for Washington state yesterday and see if he would like to join us in that same sort of pride for the people of New Jersey.

HOLMES: Well, we had an impassioned plea from within your state, from what some may consider an unlikely source, a Republican lawmaker. Let's just listen to that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAUREEN WALSH (R), WASHINGTON STATE SENATE: My daughter came out of the closet a couple of years ago. And you know what I thought, I was just going to agonize about that. Nothing's different. She's still a fabulous human being. And she's met a person that she loves very much. And some day, by God, I want to throw a wedding for that kid. And I hope that's exactly what I can do. I hope she will not feel like a second class citizen involved in something called a domestic partnership, which frankly sounds like a Merry Maids franchise to me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOLMES: Republican Representative Maureen Walsh there. I'm wondering, because this can be a very political issue, how much did that play into the support you ended up getting? GREGOIRE: No question, I think her remarks, a Republican female from a very conservative part of my state, who shared her own personal story of her daughter, was a compelling message to the people in the legislature, and, frankly, to my entire state. And it's that kind of story that I think is really what will allow us, as a nation, to move forward on this. When we realize it's moms and dads, one senator spoke of his father in our state senate. Another Republican on the house floor spoke of his brother. When we realize this is not about Republicans or Democrats, this is not about anything other than respect for our fellow human being, and that fellow human being may very well be a mom, a dad, a brother, a sister, an aunt, uncle. I think that's why America will finally step up.

That's the journey my state's been on. That's the revelation that it has seen. And that's what has moved us. And Representative Walsh's comments were absolutely compelling on the floor of our house.

HOLMES: Governor Chris Gregoire, thank you so much.

GREGOIRE: You bet. Thank you.

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