Earlier this week, the state of Washington became the seventh in the US to legalize gay marriage after the legislature approved a bill that was introduced and ultimately signed by Gov. Chris Gregoire. Gregoire, a Catholic, had been an opponent of same-sex marriage for years, perhaps for political reasons. She said that her decision "represent[ed] the culmination of [her] journey", where she had struggled with what her faith teaches about marriage. Ultimately she decided that the state did not have a reason to continue discriminating against same-sex couples that wish to marry.
On the other coast, another Catholic governor is struggling with the same issue. New Jersey’s Chris Christie, perhaps positioning himself for a presidential run in 2016, has promised to veto any bill the legislature there passes legalizing gay marriage, and he has suggested that the issue be decided by voters rather than by their elected representatives.
It was in this context that Gregoire wrote Christie a short note asking him to reconsider his position of gay marriage (read the letter to the right).
Catholic governors have an interesting history regarding gay marriage in the US. Of the 9 states that have or have had same-sex marriage rights (same-sex marriage laws in Maine and California were repealed), 5 were adopted through the legislative process. Four of those 5 laws were signed by Catholic governors: John Baldacci in Maine; John Lynch in New Hampshire; Andrew Cuomo in New York; and now Gregoire in Washington (Vermont’s legislature overrode the veto of Gov. Jim Douglas, a member of the United Church of Christ).
In Maryland, another Catholic governor, Martin O’Malley, is pushing for same-sex marriage approval as a bill winds through the legislature. Will he be the fifth Catholic governor to bring gay marriage to his or her constituents?