On Monday, Washington became the seventh state in the country to pass legislation legalizing same-sex marriage.
In a ceremony at the state capitol in Olympia, Gov. Christine Gregoire signed the bill that was passed by the Senate and House.
"Welcome to the other side of the rainbow," Sen. Ed Murray said. "No matter what the future holds, nothing will take this moment away from us." Murray went on to thank fellow members of the Legislature, in particular Pedersen and those who broke rank to support the same-sex marriage bill.
Gov. Gregoire spoke briefly before signing the bill into law and said she was "finally" giving gays and lesbians the equal rights they deserved.
"This is a very proud moment," Gregoire said. "It is a day historians will mark as a milestone in equal rights. We stood for equality and we did it together — Democrats and Republicans, gay and straight, young and old."
As she thanked her daughters, the governor teared up and mouthed the words, "I love you."
Gregoire also applauded members of the Legislature for working together and for the "thoughtful and respectful" debate that took place and called Pedersen and Murray the "heroes of the day" for their work on the bill.
Before the legislative session began, and in its opening weeks, Gregoire made the bill's passage a priority.
"I worked on it," she said. "I brought people into the office. Every one of that 25th vote and beyond were people with whom I had conversations."
While the bill has officially been signed into law, gay couples hoping to wed will need to wait a bit longer before the law takes effect – until June 7 when same-sex marriages will be permitted. Opponents of the new law hope to have it overturned before then and are working to gather the 120,577 signatures needed to get a referendum on the November ballot.
Gregoire said that if the referendum reaches the ballot, she will take an active role in the campaign to uphold marriage equality in Washington. She said she believes that if the tone of the debate is civil, the law will be upheld.
"If we can talk about this rationally and respectfully, I really believe the people of the state of Washington will say 'Washington State stands for equality,'" Gregoire said.
If enough signatures are collected, the bill would not be implemented until a public vote in November.
In addition to Washington, New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, Iowa and the District of Columbia allow gay marriage.
The Democrat-controlled state Senate in New Jersey approved a same-sex marriage bill on Monday, but Republican governor Chris Christie has said he will veto the bill.