Christine Gregoire, Washington (Democrat)
Gregoire is the second female governor of Washington supports same-sex marriages. Reuters

Washington Governor Chris Gregoire supports same-sex marriages and wants to legalize it. The 64-year-old democrat announced that she believes in equality and would introduce a bill to legalize same-sex marriages in Washington.

It's time, it's the right thing to do, and I will introduce a bill to do it, Gregoire said in a statement posted on her Web site. I say that as a wife, a mother, a student of the law, and above all as a Washingtonian with a lifelong commitment to equality and freedom, her statement said.

Gregoire had never supported same-sex marriages publicly in the past, but advocated for equal rights for same-sex couples since 2004. She signed a law in 2009 that protected domestic partnerships. The law gave almost all rights enjoyed by married couples, except the marriage license, to registered gay/lesbian couples.

She said in a news conference at Olympia that she was not comfortable of her past stand on the gay rights issues, but now supports the cause. I have not liked where I've been for seven years. I have sorted it out in my head and in my heart, she said according to a Seattle Times report.

Gregoire said that she would present the bill in the upcoming legislative session. For all couples, a state marriage license is very important. It gives them the right to enter into a marriage contract in which their legal interests, and those of their children if any, are protected by well-established civil law, she said in her statement.

She said that she strongly believed in equality and this step was in the right direction towards ending discrimination based on sexual orientation. Her statement was welcomed by various gay rights organizations fighting for marriage rights in the state, while anti-gay rights activists in the state have vowed to defeat it.

Democrats enjoy majority in the Washington state legislative house, but this won't assure a smooth passage for the proposed bill. Conservative democrats in the house, who are against the cause, had voted against the earlier bill that protected domestic partnerships.

There are strong chances that this bill will also face opposition from conservatives of both the parties. So finding sufficient support to pass the legislation would be a big challenge to Gregoire.

If the said bill is made in to law, Washington will become the seventh U.S. state to have legalized same-sex marriages. The other six states are Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, New Hampshire, Vermont and New York. The District of Columbia also allows same-sex couples to marry.