Opponents of Referendum 74 conceded
defeat on Thursday, a day after supporters declared victory.
Washington state now joins Maine and
Maryland as the first states to approve gay marriage at the ballot
“We are disappointed in losing a
tough election battle on marriage by a narrow margin,” said Joseph
Backholm, campaign chairman of Preserve Marriage Washington, the
primary group opposing the measure.
“The election results reflect the
political and funding advantages our opponents enjoyed in this very
liberal and secular state,” he said in a statement. “The results
show only that in a deep blue state, with a huge financial advantage,
gay marriage activists can win – barely.”
Late Thursday, the AP called a win for
Referendum 74. With 73% of precincts reporting, the measure was up
by nearly 5 points, 52.3% to 47.7%.
The measure is similar to Maryland's
Question 6, both of which uphold marriage laws approved by lawmakers.
Gay couples in Washington can begin
applying for marriage licenses on December 6. After a 3-day waiting
period, the first weddings are expected to take place on Sunday,
December 9. Maryland's law takes effect on January 1.