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Washington United for Marriage reports that the state has approved marriage equality

Referendum 74 Washington marriage

By Scottie Thomaston

Washington United for Marriage, the campaign to approve Referendum 74 in favor of marriage equality in Washington, is declaring victory. This makes the equality side four for four in ballot initiatives, as Maryland, Maine, and Minnesota have already been called. The campaign says that 60% of the vote has been counted in the vote-by-mail state, and it ran the numbers, and the result is a “clear win” for equality.

As of now, only the campaign has announced victory – there has not been a final call made as of this writing. But with such a steep climb for the anti-equality side and a shrinking number of votes, it seems unlikely it would change.

The campaign says:

After crunching numbers throughout the night, Washington United for Marriage (WUM), the broad coalition which built an historic statewide campaign, from a record-setting donor base to an unprecedented GOTV effort, all to defend the freedom to marry, today announced that Referendum 74 will be approved by voters.

“This is a clear win,” said WUM campaign manager Zach Silk. “We have run the numbers every which way, and we can now confidently say that we have won. This is an historic day for Washington, an historic day for our country and, most of all, for families across the state who have dreamed of this day and the wedding celebrations to come.”

With 60 percent of the vote counted, R74 already has the support of 65% of King County and is performing well in key Eastern Washington counties. Simply put, it’s now impossible for opponents to overcome the 52-48% spread for R74.

WUM built on a broad legislative effort that led to passage of the bipartisan marriage law in February. Nonetheless, essentially starting from scratch in June, the campaign built a $12.3 war chest with over 27,000 donors, 80% of whom hailed from the Evergreen State. The most common donation? Twenty-five-dollars, given over and over again.

Ten-thousand, three-hour volunteer shifts for a total of 30,000 hours in direct voter outreach. Just in the last week, 100,000 doors were knocked and nearly 200,000 phone calls were logged on Monday and Tuesday.

“We made history in so many ways,” said Silk. “Our volunteers were engaged, fired up and delivered. There has never been a ballot campaign in Washington that had this kind of breath and depth, from field to fundraising. We have much to celebrate and much to be proud of. With so much at stake, we challenged ourselves to do big things, and it made all the difference.”

The law takes effect December 6, 2012.


  • 1. Mark M. (Seattle)  |  November 7, 2012 at 12:35 pm

    I knew it!!!!!

  • 2. Tim in Sonoma  |  November 7, 2012 at 12:41 pm

    OMG! That is fantastic! What a historic day! I was worried about Washington after Maine and Maryland called it last night! I am so happy!

  • 3. Bob  |  November 7, 2012 at 12:45 pm

    Yaahooo!!!!!!! you did it !!!!!! fired up ,,, let's go,,,,, who's next

  • 4. Ed Cortes  |  November 7, 2012 at 12:49 pm

    It's now up to the Supremes, I guess.

  • 5. Michael  |  November 7, 2012 at 12:51 pm

    I'm holding off a bit on this one. As of now, OFFICIALLY only 51% of the votes have been counted in Washington and officially more won't be counted until after 4:30 pm today. While I'm confident we will win, I prefer to be cautious for a while longer.

  • 6. grod  |  November 7, 2012 at 3:41 pm

    Michael, I can understand why you might hold off when you look at the results by WA county.…. I too read that only 51% had been counted. But we both know that statistical models are available, and that result projections are often made with even less data than 51%, which bear a reasonable resemblance to what was projected. The county information does tell you when the count stopped and when it is expected to start again. Casual is a word that comes to mind. There is nothing in it for Washington United to assert success and be found wrong…. Believe!

  • 7. Anthony  |  November 7, 2012 at 3:56 pm

    They are about to start counting votes now, is there a possible projection tonight?

  • 8. Eric Koszyk  |  November 7, 2012 at 9:31 pm

    Almost half of the remaining ballots will be from liberal King County, where Referendum 74 won big.

    Also, having worked on several elections in both Oregon and Washington (both all vote-by-mail states), I can attest that earlier voters are always more conservative than later voters. For some reason conservatives make up their minds quicker and send in their ballots sooner than progressives. Apparently, we like to take our time and think about things a little longer. 🙂

    The ballots that were counted in the first batch on election night were those that were received before election "day". Now we are seeing numbers from the ballots that arrived on and after election day. All of these envelopes need to first go thru a machine that verifies the signature of the voter. Then they are opened and the ballot goes thru the counting machines.

    The process does take time but it ensures that every registered voter has the opportunity to vote.

    Anyway, if you watch the returns every day you will most likely see the Yes on Referendum 74 side slowly gain in %.

    I predict that we will ultimately win by 1-2% than what is currently listed.

    Again, I've seen this on several elections in both OR and WA.

  • 9. Anthony  |  November 7, 2012 at 1:06 pm

    I think we will hopefully get a projection of approval later tonight.

  • 10. Tyler O.  |  November 7, 2012 at 1:22 pm

    4 for 4? I feel like I am dreaming!!!

  • 11. Mike in Baltimore  |  November 7, 2012 at 2:09 pm

    Counting the retention of state Supreme Court Justice Wiggins in Iowa, I count it as 5 for 5!

    So much for nom's 'perfect' record now. And maybe nom will now start to disappear?

  • 12. Bill S.  |  November 7, 2012 at 2:49 pm

    I think we are headed towards a national, favorable resolution of this issue by the end of this decade. I'm betting that Minnesota will legalize equal marriage next year, and if the Prop 8 case turns out as expected, the number of states with equal marriage will reach into the double-digits.

    DOMA will be overturned this summer, and with this one decision you will then have a spate of "separate-but-equal" civil union states where you can no longer make the claim that civil unions provide equal benefits. These states will legalize same-sex marriage quickly as the transition from civil unions to marriage is becoming less and less traumatic. This may also be done via court orders as in a Secvik v. Sandoval-type case.

    Campaigning on being anti-gay will also be a dead end from now on. I do not think we will ever see an anti-gay marriage amendment put on a ballot again.

  • 13. Anthony  |  November 7, 2012 at 3:02 pm

    I live in CA, I'm hoping full civil marriage is restored here by Thanksgiving.

  • 14. grod  |  November 7, 2012 at 4:06 pm

    Anthony, assuming you are right that the US Supreme Court denies taking up Hollingsworth vs Perry, which state(s) in the 9th Circuit's ambit would be next to test its marriage laws with a view of overturning them? A state that already has established civil unions would best fit the reasoning of Judge Reinhardt et al.

  • 15. Bill S.  |  November 7, 2012 at 4:09 pm

    This is already occuring with Secvik v. Sandoval in Nevada.

  • 16. Jacob Combs  |  November 7, 2012 at 4:59 pm

    Also, Jackson v. Abercrombie in Hawaii. It's actually further along in the judicial progress. And as Matt notes below, it's virtually impossible that we'd hear before Thanksgiving. But hopefully we'll all have a nice marriage equality present for the holidays 🙂

  • 17. Steve  |  November 7, 2012 at 5:21 pm

    That case has an extremely conservative and religious judge though. The district court decision will be very ugly

  • 18. Matt N  |  November 7, 2012 at 4:21 pm

    The earliest you will hear is the Monday *after* Thanksgiving. Due to the holiday both cases that are accepted and those that they decline to hear will be published that Monday.

  • 19. Stefan  |  November 7, 2012 at 6:55 pm

    Don't forget Illinois is going to take up a marriage equality bill during the lame duck session.

  • 20. John_B_in_DC  |  November 7, 2012 at 5:16 pm

    These wins are absolutely amazing but has anybody noticed that for the most part the polls got it RIGHT this time? We lost little if any support when people went to vote–in fact in Minnesota I believe we won by a LARGER margin than the polls indicated we would. One reason why we were nervous–and a major reason why our opponents were (in retrospect) overconfident–is that in previous elections, polls showed several percentage points more support for marriage equality than we actually got in the corresponding elections. So what has changed? Are the polls better or has support for same-sex marriage finally reached some kind of critical mass? Or is this a matter of the people answering the poll questions and the people actually going out and voting not necessarily being the same–and this time around, our opponents weren't as motivated to get out as they were in previous elections? (I have nothing to back it up, but I suspect anti-Mormon sentiment at least somewhat depressed turnout by the right-wing evangelical christians who are the base of the modern Republican party.)

  • 21. Jamie  |  November 7, 2012 at 5:53 pm

    In honesty the Washington poll showed 6 or 7 point lead and it wasn't until they made deductions for socially desirable answers that they got to the true number. This is a must for all polls on this issue in the future. You have to ask respondents if there were answers that they were uncomfortable giving, and then throw those away.

  • 22. Anthony  |  November 7, 2012 at 6:21 pm

    You always add the undecided to the anti gay side. They will diminish in number as time goes on.

  • 23. Mike in Baltimore  |  November 9, 2012 at 9:25 pm

    Studies of previous polls taken before votes showed a loss of about 7% on the 'for' side, but no functional change in the 'anti' side.

    Thus previously, a 52-46 poll would end up 45-46 at the poll. A seven point loss of support on the 'for' side, and no real change on the 'anti' side. The undecideds (2% in the above example)? They don't figure in, as the 'for' side dropped and the 'anti' side didn't change much or any at all.

  • 24. Jonny  |  November 7, 2012 at 5:45 pm

    With all these wins couldn't this be a negative with the DOMA and Prop 8 cases? Considering that courts tend to only say discrimination is held if someone is politically disadvantage. Any take on this?

  • 25. Jamie  |  November 7, 2012 at 5:56 pm

    Not really. DOMA was passed in 1996 and there is anti-gay animus in the congressional record. Prop 8 was passed four years ago, under entirely different conditions.

  • 26. Bill S.  |  November 7, 2012 at 6:17 pm

    As wonderful as the gains are that we made today, we are still a long long way off before securing the freedom to marry in states like Texas or Mississippi. Gays are still politically powerless enough to merit sympathy from the court, yet the issue of marriage equality is not so absurd such that the courts won't want to touch it.

  • 27. Anthony  |  November 7, 2012 at 6:20 pm

    They won't change unless the Supreme Court forces them. Either that or from growing public pressure to do so.

  • 28. Steve  |  November 8, 2012 at 7:16 am

    When women were declared to be a quasi-suspect class they already had far more political power than gays now.

  • 29. Coronal  |  November 7, 2012 at 5:48 pm

    Keep in mind that all of the initiatives presented in t he past were to ban marriage equality. This time, three of them were to affirm it.

  • 30. Felyx  |  November 8, 2012 at 8:26 am

    People like to say yes. I remember studies done on this. I'm not too surprised that to affirm came as easy as to deny. Clearly those who put forth initiatives should take note and perhaps put up a wave of marriage equality approval amendments. What do you want to bet a vote to approve marriage equality would trump a constitutional amendment in a case like this?! (Yes I know that's a problematic question but it's rhetorical one so I'm not going to debate the finer points of how that might turn out. LOL)

  • 31. Adam Bink  |  November 7, 2012 at 10:04 pm

    Finally got a minute to sit down and read through here in Seattle, running our GOTV canvasses and phone banks with Courage volunteers. Thanks to everyone for chipping in to fund our work, making phone calls, getting out the word. I don't have as much time (if any at all) to blog but wanted to say I'm reading and your support really made a difference. People here are ecstatic. Already know two couples who are engaged!

  • 32. Peter Morak  |  November 8, 2012 at 11:42 am

    <img src=""/>This is so great! I'm going to celebrate with my friends right now! <img src=""/&gt;

  • 33. PDx_Str8_Supporter  |  November 8, 2012 at 1:28 pm

    The other side just through in the towel….

  • 34. MarriedGayChristian  |  November 9, 2012 at 4:47 am

    I think I'm still in shock about our wins. I was pretty much glued to my update button at work during the elections. I was super happy to read that Obama had handily won, chanting Go-Bama, lol. One of my co-workers came to me and said that several states had approved marriage equality and I started explaining to him that he must have misunderstood. I assumed the whole 'some states you vote yes, some you vote no' thing had confused him. When I looked it up and realized we actually had won 3 states I broke down and started crying. People FINALLY chose love at the ballot box. 0/32 has been a gut-wrenching statistic for years as the number has gone up and up….Now we're 4/36 and I feel like that number might as well be 50/50, because we finally won over the public in a popular vote and beat the fear-mongers. Stuffed their misleading 'let the people vote' and their 'hate the sin' propaganda right back down their throats. It means people really have seen through the lies and the 'they're coming for your kids' scare tactics.

  • 35. Chota  |  November 17, 2012 at 9:48 pm

    that and it was not to break my daughters heart and not bceause I love you, so now 2 months later my daughter asked me again and I told her that mommy and I have really busy times and she has to work away and it’s hard for us to be together but she kept asking me IF I STILL LOVE MOMMY with some watery eyes, so I felt so bad for her that I said yes again and now this morning is my ex-wife leaving me a message that she loves me ( I guess she doesn’t get the point) so what’s the best way to tell your daughter that daddy doesn’t love mommy anymore?Once she starts school she’ll be with in the same town. And it’s been 7 months since the separation and divorce.

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