Washington Governor Chris Gregoire's Wednesday announcement that she would introduce a gay marriage bill is being criticized by opponents.

While Gregoire, who is in the final year of her second term, has signed into law previous bills shoring up the state's domestic partnership law, she has previously opposed giving gay and lesbian couples the right to marry.

In announcing she would back the bill, Gregoire, 64, said she had personally struggled with the issue.

(Related: Chris Gregoire's backing of gay marriage effort lauded by gay rights groups.)

Her change of heart, however, is being criticized by opponents of marriage equality, as reported by ThinkProgress.org.

Senator Dan Swecker said Gregoire was “kind of fanning the flames” of a “very divisive issue.”

Ken Hutcherson, who as pastor of the Antioch Bible Church in Redmond has previously opposed proposed gay rights measures, insisted that the yet-to-be introduced bill would “infringe upon my freedom of religion.”

“Every place this has become the law of the land, you are muzzled about what you can say about the issue of homosexuality,” he said on KIRO FM's Dori Monson Show.

And Brian Brown, the president of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), the nation's most vociferous opponent of gay marriage, committed his group to working against the bill's passage.

“The people of this country believe that marriage is a union of a man and a woman,” Brown told Reuters. “I expect the legislature in Washington state will stand up for this commitment and vote to protect marriage.”