The road to gay marriage in Washington state.

September 1971: Paul Barwick and John Singer walk into King County Auditor’s Office and request a marriage license. They are turned down by Auditor Lloyd Hara.

August 1972: Barwick and Singer sue Hara, claiming denial of a marriage license violates their constitutional rights. A King County Superior Court judge rejects Barwick and Singer’s claims of discrimination, and the state Court of Appeals upholds the ruling.

February 1998: The Legislature passes Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), a state statute prohibiting same-sex marriage.

March 2004: Eight gay and lesbian couples sue King County over right to marry.

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April 2004: Eleven gay and lesbian couples sue state over right to marry.

August 2004: King County Superior Court Judge William Downing Downing rules that denying gays the right to marry amounts to a denial of due process, finds DOMA unconstitutional.

September 2004: Thurston County Superior Court Judge Richard Hicks rules gays are part of “protected class” and may not be denied same right granted others; he finds DOMA unconstitutional.

March 2005: The two cases are merged and argued before state Supreme Court.

February 2006: Gov. Chris Gregoire signs gay-rights bill into law. The legislation adds the words “sexual orientation” to existing law that prohibits discrimination on basis of race, age, gender, disability, religion and marital status.

July 2006: State Supreme Court, in 5-4 ruling, rejects rights of gay couples to marry and upholds DOMA.

April 2007: Gregoire signs bill creating same-sex domestic partnerships. Law also applies to heterosexual couples 62 and older.

March 2008: Gregoire signs a bill expanding 2007 domestic-partnership law.

May 2009: Gregoire signs “everything but marriage” bill, granting domestic partners all state-provided benefits that married couples have. Opponents launch referendum drive seeking to overturn law.

November 2009: Referendum 71, which would repeal “everything but marriage” law, fails at ballot; Washington becomes first state where voters approve rights of same-sex partners.

January 2012: Gregoire, saying “I have been on my own journey,” announces her support of same-sex marriage legislation.

February 2012: Legislature passes bill to legalize same-sex marriage, and Gregoire signs it into law.

Compiled by Seattle Times news researcher Gene Balk