It’s official!  Governor Chris Gregoire and Secretary of State Sam Reed certified the election results on Tuesday.  The new domestic partnership law will now go into effect at 12:01 a.m. Thursday, December 3.  There are currently  13,082 people in registered domestic partnerships in both same-sex couples and opposite-sex couples where at least one partner is 62 or older.  Washington state registered domestic partners are now fully equal to their married peers under Washington state law.



Judging by the final vote tally, I’d say that Josh Friedes was right when he said this:

The mere turning in of signatures – even if it’s enough to qualify [the referendum for the ballot] – is not a barometer of the level of support for the legal recognition of gay and lesbian couples in the state.  — Josh Friedes, Approve 71 Campaign Manager

He and the leadership at Washington Families Standing Together were also right about our main challenge being the get-out-the-vote effort necessitated by the difference between support for domestic partnerships and/or marriage equality in the general electorate (67%) and support among likely voters in an off-year election (51%).  Our 53.2% victory tells me that we did in fact turn some unlikely voters into likely voters, giving us a solid 6% margin of victory.  That translates into almost 113,000 votes.  I’d say our side has proven that it understands Washington’s political landscape quite well.  I’d say that equality is so important to Washingtonians that they will come out to vote when otherwise they may not have.

I’ve said this before, but I think it is worth repeating:  The last time Washington voters had the opportunity to ratify a pro-equality law at the polls was in 1997.  Initiative to the People 677 proposed an employment non-discrimination law.  The ballot title read Shall discrimination based on sexual orientation be prohibited in employment, employment agency, and union membership practices, without requiring employee partner benefits or preferential treatment?.  

The measure was rejected 59.7% to 40.3%.  Contrary to the current image of the Puget Sound area of Washington as progressive, not one single county – not even Seattle’s home of King County – voted to approve I-677.  Contrast that with the current election where the electorate as a whole approved R-71 and majorities in 10 of Washington’s 39 counties have approved R-71.  But the truly stunning statistic is that the rate of ballot measure approval increased between 1997 and 2009 in all but one county.

As you consider the graph, realize that in contrast to R-71, I-677 was rather narrow in scope.  It dealt only with the employment discrimination of individuals.  Voting yes on I-677 didn’t ask voters to contemplate the meaning of family; didn’t ask voters to recognize the existence of gay and lesbian parents; didn’t ask voters to find the fiction in school-focused scare tactics.  In other words, not only have Washington voters moved towards equality in virtually every county, they’ve shown by their R-71 vote that they’re open to supporting equality much more comprehensively in the law.  This is big.

Thank You Washington!

It’s official!  Governor Chris Gregoire and Secretary of State Sam Reed certified the election results on Tuesday.  The new domestic partnership law will now go into effect at 12:01 a.m. Thursday, December 3.  There are currently  13,082 people in registered domestic partnerships in both same-sex couples and opposite-sex couples where at least one partner is 62 or older.  Washington state registered domestic partners are now fully equal to their married peers under Washington state law.



Judging by the final vote tally, I’d say that Josh Friedes was right when he said this:

The mere turning in of signatures – even if it’s enough to qualify [the referendum for the ballot] – is not a barometer of the level of support for the legal recognition of gay and lesbian couples in the state.  — Josh Friedes, Approve 71 Campaign Manager

He and the leadership at Washington Families Standing Together were also right about our main challenge being the get-out-the-vote effort necessitated by the difference between support for domestic partnerships and/or marriage equality in the general electorate (67%) and support among likely voters in an off-year election (51%).  Our 53.2% victory tells me that we did in fact turn some unlikely voters into likely voters, giving us a solid 6% margin of victory.  That translates into almost 113,000 votes.  I’d say our side has proven that it understands Washington’s political landscape quite well.  I’d say that equality is so important to Washingtonians that they will come out to vote when otherwise they may not have.

I’ve said this before, but I think it is worth repeating:  The last time Washington voters had the opportunity to ratify a pro-equality law at the polls was in 1997.  Initiative to the People 677 proposed an employment non-discrimination law.  The ballot title read Shall discrimination based on sexual orientation be prohibited in employment, employment agency, and union membership practices, without requiring employee partner benefits or preferential treatment?.  

The measure was rejected 59.7% to 40.3%.  Contrary to the current image of the Puget Sound area of Washington as progressive, not one single county – not even Seattle’s home of King County – voted to approve I-677.  Contrast that with the current election where the electorate as a whole approved R-71 and majorities in 10 of Washington’s 39 counties have approved R-71.  But the truly stunning statistic is that the rate of ballot measure approval increased between 1997 and 2009 in all but one county.

As you consider the graph, realize that in contrast to R-71, I-677 was rather narrow in scope.  It dealt only with the employment discrimination of individuals.  Voting yes on I-677 didn’t ask voters to contemplate the meaning of family; didn’t ask voters to recognize the existence of gay and lesbian parents; didn’t ask voters to find the fiction in school-focused scare tactics.  In other words, not only have Washington voters moved towards equality in virtually every county, they’ve shown by their R-71 vote that they’re open to supporting equality much more comprehensively in the law.  This is big.

Thank You Washington!
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Laurel Ramseyer

Laurel Ramseyer

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