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Religious Tolerance logo

Efforts to legalize same-sex marriage (SSM) in Washington State

2012-JUN to SEP: More polling data.
Duplicate votes prevented. Donations.

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This topic is a continuation from the previous essay ....

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2012-JUN-14 to 17: Public Policy Polling (PPP) samples public opinion on SSM:

PPP conducted a survey of 1,073 Washingtonian voters during mid-June. They found that:

  • 51% support SSM
  • 42% oppose SSM
  • 7% have no opinion or refused to answer.

This is a significant increase in support since:

  • 2011-MAY when support was 46% and opposition 44% -- far too close to call.
  • 2012-FEB when support was 49% and opposition 44% -- where approval of SSM would be still succeptible to fear-based TV ads.

As usual, there is a major generational gap present in the 2012-JUN poll. Those 65 years-of-age and older oppose same-sex marriage by 56% to 35%; those under 65 support SSM by 55% to 39%. In the past year, Most Republicans have not changed in their opposition to SSM. However, Democrats have gone from 76% support and 17% opposition to 82% support and 13% opposition in 2012. Independents have gone from 41% support and 42% opposition to 53% support and 39% opposition in 2012.

Dean Debnam, President of Public Policy Polling, said:

"A majority of Washington voters now support gay marriage. Equality advocates are in position now to go 4 for 4
this fall, winning [votes on election day on 2012-NOV-06] in Minnesota, Maryland, and Maine in addition to Washington." 1

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2012-JUL-03: Second anti-SSM marriage initiative fails:

Attorney Stephen Pidgeon and his group Protect Marriage Washington attempted to launch a second voter initiative that, if included on the ballot and passed by the voters, would have created a statute restricting marriage to the union of one woman and one man. If the initiative had succeeded it would have created chaos on election day, because:

  • Referendum 74, which is designed to repeal the bill that Governor Gregoire (D) signed into law will require voters to check "no" to repeal the law and prevent SSM from being made available to loving, committed same-sex couples. Its sponsors collected 247,331 signatures on their petition which is more than the 241,000 required. Referendum 74 will appear on the ballot on 2012-NOV-06.

  • Initiative 1192, which was designed to create a statute restricting marriage to one woman and one man, would have required voters to check "yes" to create the statute and ban SSM.

Sponsors of 1192 failed because they were only able to collect about 105,000 signatures. less than half the number required.

Attorney Pidgeon said:

"The truth is there was a competing measure ... and the referendum, let's just say they were very hot in their competition and even though we supported their effort they did not support ours." 2

Zach Silk, a spokesman for Washington United for Marriage, which supports SSM, was pleased that the Initiative failed. He said:

"We are glad that it will be a less confusing ballot for voters." 2

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2012-JUL: Funds collected to promote and prevent SSM:

According to the Chicago Tribune:

  • Washington United for Marriage, which supports marriage equality for all loving, committed couples, has raised $1.9 million as of early 2012-JUL. This includes a $100,000 donation from Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft, and a $100,000 donation from Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.

  • Preserve Marriage Washington which wants to exclude same-sex couples from marriage has raised $132,000.

  • Protect Marriage Washington which also wants to restrict marriage to one woman and one man, has reported $13,600 in donations. 2

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2012-JUL-27: Founder of commits to a major donation to support SSM:

Jeff Bezos and his wife MacKenzie have decided to donate $2.5 million in support of marriage equality in Washington state. This made the couple the largest financial backers of same-sex marriage in the U.S. Bezos founded in Seattle during 1994 and has become one of a growing number of heterosexual business executives who are supporting marriage equality causes.

Zach Silk, the campaign manager for Washington United for Marriage, said :

"To get this [donation] from a straight, married couple sends a powerful message that marriage is seen as a fundamental question of fairness."

Other donors have included Bill Gates of Apple and Steven A. Ballmer of Microsoft. Each gave $100,000 to the same referendum campaign.

The outcome of Referendum 74 is absolutely critical to groups favoring marriage equality and also to groups wishing to exclude loving, committed same-sex couples from marrying. There have been about 32 referendums in the past concerning SSM. In every case, voters opposed equality, although by diminishing margins. The latest votes were in California and Maine where a shift in voting of a few percent would have reversed the outcome and preserved same-sex marriage. There has been a notable surge in support for SSM in Washington State and the rest of the country in recent years.

  • If SSM is confirmed by Referendum 74, then it will be the first victory for marriage equality by popular vote in U.S. history after a long string of defeats. Previous legalization of SSM have been the results of court orders or legislative activity.

  • If the law legalizing SSM is repealed by Referendum 74, then opponents to SSM will be able to claim that the public opinion polls are wrong, that the majority of American adults do not support SSM, and that any time that the public is allowed to vote on SSM they always have turned it down -- and will continue to reject it in the future.

Supporters for SSM currently have raised about $5 million dollars, including Bezos' donation. Almost all of the funds will pay for advertising. They hope to eventually raise $8 million. Opponents hope to raise up to $4 million. However, if past experience applies to Washington State, the opponents will resort to fear based ads which are surprisingly effective and give far more negative effect per dollar that the positive ads used by supporters of SSM.

Jennifer Cast, 50, is a fund-raising chairperson for Washington United for Marriage. She also happens to be one of the original employees of back when that organization only consisted of a few dozen people. She is now the lesbian mother of four children. She e-mailed Bezos on JUL-22 saying:

"I want to have the right to marry the love of my life and to let my children and grandchildren know their family is honored like a ‘real’ family. We need help from straight people. To be very frank, we need help from wealthy straight people who care about us and who want to help us win. ... Jeff, I suspect you support marriage equality. I beg you not to sit on the sidelines and hope the vote goes our way. Help us make it so."

She asked him to donate between $100,000 and $200,000.

He replied on JUL-24, saying: "Jen, this is right for so many reasons. We’re in for $2.5 million. Jeff & MacKenzie."

Jennifer said that she had to read out the reply twice to make certain that she had read it correctly. 3,4

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2012-AUG-27: Washington United for Marriage plans TV ad blitz:

This group has reserved $5 million in television time to show a collection of ads promoting marriage equality. Spokesperson Zach Silk said that the group will be starting the ads "sometime after Labor Day." The total amount raised by Washington United is over $6 million. Their main opposition is the National Organization for Marriage who expects to raise about $4 million. Also opposed to marriage equality is a local group: Preserve Marriage Washington. They have raised more than $471,000. 6

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2012-SEP-08: SurveyUSA shows support for SSM rising, opposition falling:

With only eight weeks to go to election day, SurveyUSA conducted a poll of 524 likely voters and found:

  • 56% support SSM
  • 38% oppose SSM
  • 6% have no opinion or refused to answer.

The margin of error is ~+mn~4.3 percentage points.

A summary of the results of four polls to date is located on this section's menu.

Some commentators believe that once support exceeds opposition by about ten percentage points, that not even millions of dollars of fear-based TV ads can overturn the support.

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This topic continues in the next essay ....

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References used in this essay:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "McKenna takes lead in Wa. gubernatorial race," Public Policy Polling, 2012-JUN-19, at:  This is a PDF file.
  2. Alex Dobuzinskis, "Washington State anti-gay marriage initiative fails," Chicago Tribune, 2012-JUL-03, at:
  3. Michael D. Shear, "Amazon’s Founder Pledges $2.5 Million in Support of Same-Sex Marriage," New York Times, 2012-JUL-27, at:
  4. Clare O'Connor, "Jeff Bezos Joins Growing List Of Billionaires Backing Same-Sex Marriage," Forbes, 2012-JUL-27, at:
  5. "Majority in Washington for gay marriage," Public Policy Polling, 2012-JUN-19, at:
  6. Rachel La Corte, "Gay marriage group reserves $5M in TV ad time," Seattle PI, 2012-AUG-27, at:
  7. "SurveyUSA Election Poll #19615," SurveyUSA, 2012-SEP-10, at:
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Copyright 2012 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Original posting: 2012-JUL-27
Latest update: 2012-SEP-14
Author: B.A. Robinson

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