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

2012-NOV: Updated results. Referendum R-74 passes.
SSM legalized. Reactions to the Referendum passing.

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This topic is a continuation from the previous essay

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2012-NOV-08/10: Updated results. Data by county:

On NOV-08, the Washington Secretary of State posted updated results with almost all votes counted. Results were: 52.3% of the voters approved R-74 while 47.7% were opposed for a margin of 4.6 percentage points in favor of SSM. 1 Results in Maine and Maryland were almost identical.

Voters in the state were highly polarized. Rural counties were strongly opposed to R-74 and thus to SSM:

  • Adams County in South-East Washington state voted 72% against R-74.
  • Garfield County in the South-East was 71% opposed.
  • Lincoln County in Central-East was 72% opposed.
  • Stevens County in the North-East was 69% opposed

But, urban counties with larger populations were in favor of R-74, and enabled passage of the referendum. All were in the North-West corner of Washington near Seattle:

  • Jefferson County voted 63% in favor of R-74.
  • King County, which includes Seattle, was 66% in favor.
  • San Juan County was 71% in favor.
  • Thurston County was 56% in favor. 2

An update on the evening of NOV-10 showed 53.15% in favor and 46.85% opposed for a margin of 6.30 percentage points. 2

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Reactions to the passage of R-74:

  • An editorial in the Spokesman-Review called: "Washington a beacon for marriage equality." It said, in part:

    "... This victory caps an implausible journey that began in the 1970s, when the first bid for a civil rights bill for gay and lesbian citizens was launched in the Legislature. In 2006, on the 29th try, lawmakers passed a bill that outlawed discrimination based on sexual orientation in the areas of employment, housing, finance and public accommodations. Three years later, voters expanded those rights to include everything but marriage. Tuesday, that final barrier fell.

    At each step, whether it was granting equal workplace benefits or more government protections, opponents argued that incremental changes would lead to gay marriage. They knew if gay and lesbian people gained footholds and dire consequences didn’t materialize, intolerance would crack and acceptance would grow.

    And they were right.

    Fifteen years after voting for the federal Defense of Marriage Act, U.S. Sen. Patty Murray announced last year that it should be repealed. In 2010, Congress repealed the 'Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell' policy that barred openly gay people from serving in the military. In May, Barack Obama became the first president to support gay marriage. Gov. Chris Gregoire came to the end of her personal journey on this issue and signed gay marriage legislation last spring.

    A crucial factor behind those developments was that more people became openly gay, which increased acceptance in families, workplaces, media and social institutions. Familiarity undercuts demonization.

    So now it is opponents who need to adapt. The Republican Party is conducting some soul-searching after watching a Democratic president win re-election thanks to a diverse coalition of voters, including gay and lesbian Americans. As Matthew Dowd, a former Republican strategist, said on election night, the GOP is a 'Mad Men party in a Modern Family America,' referring to one television show set in the 1960s and another featuring a gay couple raising a child today.

    Half of Americans back gay marriage, according to a Gallup Poll taken this year. In 1996, only 27 percent did. The greatest support is among young people, so acceptance will only grow.

    Washingtonians should be proud of its pioneering status on this human rights issue. Margarethe Cammermeyer was discharged from the Washington National Guard after disclosing she was a lesbian, but she won a landmark court case in 1994 that signaled the beginning of the end of the military’s policy of discrimination. A case brought by Maj. Margaret Witt, an Air Force nurse from Spokane, helped knock down the barrier for good.

    And this week, Washington voters once again put the state at the forefront of equality and justice by granting gay and lesbian couples the right to marry. Just like everyone else." 3

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  • Craig Sailor, staff writer for The Bellingham Herald wrote an article titled "The effects of R-74 on Washington." He chose to write his article about two same-sex couples who are planning on marrying in early December:

    • John McCluskey, 76 and his partner Rudy Henry, 78 of Tacoma met on New Years Eve 1958. Almost 54 years later they are planning to marry in mid-DEC. It is being organized by the local LGBT community. 4

    • Heather Kawamoto, 38, and Kay Lancaster, 51 have been together for 14 years. They could have married in British Columbia, Canada which shares a border with the state of Washington. But they wanted to wait until SSM was legal in their home state. They preferred to have a summer wedding. However, Kawamoto's father is in poor health, so they are now planning on have a small ceremony as soon as possible in December. Kawamoto says that their daughter will beneft the most. She said:

      "“When I think about marriage I think about love, I think about commitment, I think about family. We are raising Kayleigh with those same values. As a mother, I want her to know that her family is represented in the community as worthy of having those same social values." 4

  • Clarice Bethke, 13, a student in Goodman Middle School in Gig Harbor, WA, joined a small number of other students at a busy street intersection before the referendum, carrying pro-SSM signs. She said:

    "The majority of (drivers) were honking and giving a thumbs-up. A few insulted us."

    She came out as a lesbian at the age of 12.  She and her mother, Darby Bethke, organized The Rainbow Club for LGBT and straight students who want to reduce harrassment of LGBT students. Clarice is president of the club. After learing of the passage of R-74, she said that she feels that:

    "... there’s a future for me and other people like me. There’s equality. That makes me happy."5

  • Clergy are divided on whether they will agree to marry same-sex couples when it becomes possible in early December:

  • The Rev. Bill Graves of the Tahoma Unitarian Universalist Congregation said he would marry a same-sex couple "... with the greatest joy and without the slightest hesitation." He bases his position on the Golden Rule: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." He said:"

    "I don’t see a reason why we would distinguish between committed, loving relationships."

    Susan Dye and Diane Harney are planning to be married by another Unitarian Universalist (U-U) minister during 2013-JAN. Dye said.

    "It’s astounding. In my entire life I never thought I would be able to get married. To have the reality of it now is just incredible."

    Harney said gaining the legal right to marry:

    "... means the world has caught up with our lives in a way. I think it really does mean our life has been validated in a way that it hadn’t been."

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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. "Referendum Measure No. 74 Concerns marriage for same-sex couples," Washington Secretary of State Elections Division, as on 2012-NOV-08 PM, at:
  2. "November 06, 2012 General Election Results," Washington Secretary of State, 2012-NOV-10 @6.54 PM, at:
  3. "Washington a beacon for marriage equality," The Spokesman-Review, 2012-NOV-09, at:
  4. Craig Sailor, "The effects of R-74 on Washington," The Bellingham Herald, 2012-NOV-11, at:
  5. Debbie Cafazzo, "Youths show their support for R-74, democracy," The Bellingham Herald, 2012-NOV-11, at:

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Copyright 2012 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Original posting: 2012-NOV-8
Latest update: 2012-DEC-07
Author: B.A. Robinson

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