Supporters of gay marriage in
Washington state declared a victory on Wednesday, saying the
arithmetic was on their side.
While a final tally has yet to be
released, Washington United for Marriage spokesman Zach Silk said he
was confident Referendum 74 would pass, which would allow the
marriage law approved by lawmakers to take effect on December 6.
With 52% of precincts reporting, the
measure was narrowly leading 52% to 48%. The Olympian
reported that the measure was losing in 31 out of the state's 39
“This victory is a joyous step
forward for millions of gay and lesbian people in Washington and
around the country who have dreamt of someday being able to marry the
person they love,” Thomas Wheatley, director of organizing for
Freedom to Marry and a key campaign adviser to Washington United for
Marriage, said in a statement. “Washingtonians know that marriage
means something important and special to all couples, their families,
and their friends – including gay couples and their loved ones.
Washington’s campaign mobilized unprecedented support from
businesses, faith leaders, and young voters, demonstrating that the
freedom to marry matters to all people and setting a powerful example
as we continue to work to win marriage nationwide.”
Voters in Maryland
also decided to uphold a similar law on Tuesday, and Maine
became the first state to ever approve marriage equality at the
rejected a proposed constitutional amendment which would have defined
marriage as a heterosexual union.
In Washington, the legislation was
approved first in the Senate, where several Republican senators spoke
up in support of marriage equality.
“This has been a very personal and
emotional issue for everyone,” Senator Steve Litzow told
colleagues. “I'm voting for this bill because I believe it's the
right thing to do. I believe an adult should have the right to marry
the person they love. It's that simple for me. It's about the
personal freedom of two consenting adults to make that choice for
A week later, a majority in the House
agreed after a two-hour debate. Among those voting for passage was
Republican Rep. Maureen Walsh, who said she was voting in favor
because her lesbian daughter is “a fabulous human being” for whom
she someday wants to throw a wedding. She later appeared in an ad
for Washington United for All Families, the group working to approve
Governor Chris Gregoire, a Democrat,
signed the measure into law.
In 2007, Washington began recognizing
gay couples with domestic partnerships. A 2009 expansion of the law
– dubbed “everything but marriage” – gave gay couples all the
protections of marriage. Opponents failed in an effort to roll back
the legislation at the ballot box.