Gubernatorial candidates Jay Inslee and Rob McKenna have weighed in on an effort to legalize gay marriage in Washington.

Washington United for Marriage, a coalition of gay rights, labor, civil rights and religious groups, kicked off the effort on Monday with a press conference. The group will rally support with a series of suburban town hall style meeting in the coming weeks.

Speaking at the conference, Senator Ed Murray, a Democrat from Seattle, said he would introduce a gay marriage bill in January.

“It's not a sure thing,” said Murray, who is openly gay. “At some point you need to be willing to take the risk and move forward.”

U.S. Congressman Inslee immediate endorsed the effort, calling it “the next logical step,” a reference to a 2009 expansion of the state's domestic partnership law, which gave gay and lesbian couples all the legal protections of marriage.

“For him, it's an equal rights issue,” Inslee spokeswoman Jaime Smith told the AP. “He feels really strongly that the government shouldn't have a role in preventing a committed couple from enjoying the kind of marriage he has with his wife.”

Republican State Attorney General Rob McKenna said through his campaign manager that he supports the state's current domestic partnership law, but not marriage equality.

“Rob believes that this is an issue that is going to be decided by the voters,” Randy Pepple said.

Opponents of gay rights who in 2009 put the domestic partnership law up for a vote said they would lobby against the bill and vowed to put it up for a vote if approved by lawmakers.

“We believe in marriage,” Gary Randall, president of the Christian conservative group Faith and Freedom Network, wrote in a blog post. “We are willing to defend it, despite the scorn sometimes directed at this stand.”

“Should Murray get this through the Legislature, and that is not a given even though the numbers seem to favor him, we will file an initiative or referendum and take it to the people of the state,” he added.