Governor Chris Gregoire, a Democrat and a Roman Catholic, signed into law Washington State’s gay marriage legislation. The North Western state becomes the seventh in the United States to offer gay marriage equality.

“As governor for more than seven years, this is one of my proudest moments,” Mrs Gregoire said.

“And most surely today is a proud day in the history of the Legislature and the state of Washington. It is a day historians will mark as a milestone for equal rights. A day when we did what was right, we did what was just, and we did what was fair. We stood up for equality and we did it together – Republicans and Democrats, gay and straight, young and old, and a variety of religious faiths. I’m proud of who and what we are in this state.”

“I’m proud that our same-sex couples will no longer be treated as separate but equal,” she said. “They will be equal. I’m proud that children in our schools and neighborhoods will not have to wonder why their loving parents are considered different than other loving parents. I’m proud of parents who have fought so fiercely for the rights of their much-loved gay and lesbian children. And I’m proud that children who discover they are gay and lesbian can feel good about themselves.”

“To Senator Murray and Representative Pedersen, thank you for your skilled leadership as prime sponsors of marriage equality legislation,” Gregoire continued. “We have been on this journey together. And the intelligence, care and patience you brought to this struggle over so many years defines what it means to be a great legislator.”

Last week the state’s House of Representatives has passed a bill to introduce gay marriage by 55 votes to 43. The state’s senate had already approved the measure.

The law will take effect 90 days from today. But opponents have vowed to fight gay marriage with a ballot measure, similar to California’s Proposition 8 that would give voters the opportunity to overturn pro-gay legislation.

Last week, the US 9th District Court of Appeals found that Proposition 8 broke the United States constitution. Although the court has jurisdiction over a number of states, including Washington, its decision was limited to California.

Coffee giant Starbucks was among multi-nationals based in Washington state to back the legislation.

A statement from the Seattle-based hot drink titan says it was “proud” to join other Washington-based employers like Microsoft and Nike as support for equal marriage brews in the state.