Thursday, June 29, 2017 This Week's Paper

Same sex marriage legalized in Washington

While the fate of Referendum 74 was not yet formally called at Tacoma Weekly press time, supporters of same-sex marriage remain optimistic. A majority of voters in Washington have approved the Referendum. Statewide, 52 percent of voters cast “yes” votes, which upholds the law passed by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Gregoire earlier this year granting same-sex couples the right to marry. The measure was placed before voters when opponents gathered enough signatures to challenge the new law. As of press time, the measure is failing in Pierce County, where it received 86,189 votes in favor, or 47.8 percent. No votes were 93,849, or 52.1 percent. If the Referendum is approved, the new law will go into effect on Dec. 6. Rick Jacobs, founder and chair of the Courage Campaign, issued a statement on the vote in Washington and Maryland and Maine, where voters are also approving same-sex marriage ballot measures. “The tide has turned – when voters have the opportunity to really hear directly from loving, committed same-sex couples and their families, they voted for fairness and the freedom to marry,” Jones said. “How fitting that four years after Prop. 8 awakened the nation, and the world, to the injustice of marriage for some but not for all committed couples, we have now won at the ballot box.

“The Supreme Court can see that America is continuing its historic march toward equality and justice for all. Those who oppose the freedom to marry for committed couples are clearly on the wrong side of history. More and more voters are coming to know that gay people are our neighbors, our co-workers, our fellow parishioners, our family and our friends. It will not be long at all before all loving committed couples have the freedom to marry.” Leaders with Preserve Marriage Washington, the campaign that urged voters to reject the referendum, issued a statement that it is too early for the other side to claim victory. As of Election Night, it had 51.8 percent approval. Joseph Backholm, chairman of the group, noted nearly half the ballots had not been counted. “We have known all along that this would be an extremely close race, and it has proven to be a race that will go down to wire,” he said. While gay marriage activists touted the results from King County where the measure is passing, Preserve Marriage Washington pointed out that the traditional marriage campaign does not need to win that decidedly liberal county in order to win statewide.  “We understand the math is challenging, but there remains a path to victory for us,” said Backholm. “Everyone needs to respect the process and wait for the ballots to be counted. We remain hopeful that when all of the ballots are in the voters of Washington will not redefine marriage.” Backholm noted that that the pro-Referendum 74 campaign spent about five times as much money as the reject campaign and that Washington is a deep blue state that voted 55 percent for Barack Obama and 43 percent for Mitt Romney.