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Four major Washington newspapers endorse marriage equality, marriage vote fails in Australia

Marriage equality

By Jacob CombsGoal Thermometer

Washington United for Marriage reported Monday that four of Washington state’s leading newspapers have endorsed Referendum 74, the ballot initiative that will go before voters this November asking them uphold the state’s recently-passed marriage equality law.  The four newspapers that wrote editorials in favor of the initiative this weekend are The Seattle TimesThe Columbian, which covers greater Vancouver, Spokane’s Spokesman Review and The News Tribune, which serves Pierce County.  Last Wednesday, the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin endorsed Referendum 74, and The Bellingham Herald published an editorial in favor this Monday.

In its strongly-worded editorial in favor of Referendum 74, The Seattle Times wrote, “The word lost in the formalities of lawmaking was “love.” One central lesson is that love is patient. Legislators and community leaders built a path toward their goal. In 2009, when the domestic-partnership law was referred to voters, it was strongly approved…. Once again the state must act together. Mark the ballot to Approve R-74. Love does not fail.”

Kate Riley, the paper’s editorial page editor, wrote a powerful piece detailing the leadership of the Blethen family, which has run The Seattle Times for more than 100 years, including the importance of LGBT issues to the younger members of the family:

“[T]he change seems to be strongest among younger people who are inspiring their elders’ changes of heart.

That was what happened in 2000, when The Seattle Times editorial board reversed its strong opposition to civil unions, thanks to the fifth generation of the Blethen family, which has run the paper for 116 years. The company puts young family members through their training paces. One such exercise, intended to expose them to public-policy debate, caused the Times to pivot.

Seven cousins, then ranging in age from 21 to 30, were assigned to teams, for and against civil unions. Though they argued vigorously for the respective viewpoints, it became clear they were all in agreement: The time for civil unions had come.”

In addition, The Seattle Times announced a social media campaign on Monday called “I do,” offering readers a pro-Referendum 74 sign to print out and photograph themselves holding for an online gallery of supporters.  Referendum 74 looks to be in a good position in Washington, with an Ellway poll conducted from Sept. 8-12 showing 52 percent of respondents in favor of the law, with 40 percent opposed and eight percent undecided.  That’s an encouraging increase since the firm’s last poll in July, which showed the initiative leading 49-39 percent.

Meanwhile, in Australia, a federal marriage bill failed in the House of Representatives by a vote of 98-42.  All Coalition members, led by Labor Prime Minister Julia Gillard, who opposes marriage equality, voted against the bill.  The Australian Senate will likely vote down the bill as well in the next few days.  LGBT activists in the country will now focus their efforts on passing marriage equality at the state level.  A marriage bill passed the lower house in Tasmania, and now must pass the state’s 15-seat Legislative Council.  Marriage equality efforts are also underway in South Australia, New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory.

UPDATE (9/20): The marriage bill has failed in the Australian Senate as well, by a 41-26 vote.



  • 1. Straight Ally #3008  |  September 19, 2012 at 9:15 am

    I'm amazed that an atheist like Gillard is opposed to marriage equality – political expediency or personal prejudice, or both, I'm not sure. I think it's still fair to say that religious fundamentalism is the biggest obstacle, but let this be an important reminder that opposition can come from unexpected quarters.

  • 2. jason walter  |  September 19, 2012 at 11:56 am

    <img src=""/&gt; I was actually so hoping to hear good news from Australia!<img src=""/&gt;

  • 3. Bill S.  |  September 19, 2012 at 2:07 pm

    We will win France this year!

  • 4. David S.  |  September 19, 2012 at 9:32 pm

    "All Coalition members, led by Labor Prime Minister Julia Gillard, who opposes marriage equality, voted against the bill." – in fact, the Coalition consists of the Liberal Party and the National Party. Prime Minister Gillard is part of the Labor Party.

  • 5. Greg from Oz  |  September 20, 2012 at 7:45 pm

    And the other thing to keep in mind is that DownUnder here in Oz, the marriage debate has an entirely different context to that as in the USA.
    Largely, we already have the same rights as opposite sex couples under law, thanks to our defacto relationship laws in place in the country – defacto relationships are treated exactly the same as marriages here.
    In Oz, the main thrust for us is really in the terminology and the fact that 'similar is not equal'.
    I still think that the fight for the access to marriage equality is made harder here in Oz, partly because for us it's not a matter of equal rights under law, because we have that already, but more in the way of a definition and a respect for our relationships – this makes it harder for us to motivate the GLBTQI community around it.
    I know the majority of my friends in the community have a very complacent attitude towards this fight, because it's seen more as a 'dogma' or a fight for an 'equal definition' of our relationships, rather than for any solid rights as such.
    For many, and I am one, I couldn't give a tinker's cuss what the 'straight' community think of my relationships – they are what they are and I don't need their 'recognition' – but I WILL fight for those that feel this is important to them and their families.
    But when you are trying to 'rally the troops' around a cause that is largely 'symbolic' or for a principle (as important as that principle might be), and not really fighting for any legal 'right' as such, it does make the battle that much harder.
    Greg from Oz (who hasn't commented for quite a while, but has been following events VERY closely from Down Under :-))

  • 6. Equality On Trial »&hellip  |  April 17, 2013 at 8:02 am

    […] he told the AP.  Marriage equality legislation failed in Australia last year both at the federal and state […]

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