Referendum 71 Approved in Washington State

R71 Voters in Washington state have approved Referendum 71, the AP reports:

"With about 69 percent of the expected vote counted Thursday in unofficial returns, R-71 was leading 52 percent to 48 percent. The
measure asked voters to approve or reject the latest expansion of the
state's domestic partnership law, granting registered domestic partners
additional state rights previously given only to married couples."


  1. Dan says

    i just don’t understand how “Domestic Partnership” and “Marriage” have become such ideologically different concepts. i live in Seattle, and i *feel* that if this had been about “Gay Marriage” we would have had the same results as Maine …

    and yes – in 2 years we will have to re-defend this small step towards equality … sign up now if you need the benefits!!

  2. Tyler says

    DPs are safe in WA. They would have to mount an initiative to overturn this, which requires twice as many signatures as a referendum. Moreover, 2009 probably had the most conservative electorate you’ll get in WA. Yes, 2011 is another off-year election, but there’ll have been two more years for the oldest bigots to die.

    The only vote left in WA is over the word marriage. The legislature’s ready to give it to us, they just need to decide when we can survive a referendum. They might be balsy and do it in 2010, but I’m betting they do it in 2012 when Obama, Cantwell, and the next governor are on the ballot.

  3. says

    The public are sentimental about marraige and don’t want to share it. That’s obvious from the polls. A majority support domestic partnership, which is a huge opportunity for us. We should have been asking for that all along. But the victim complex crowd high jacked our strategy, as usual, and forced us to go after something we can’t win. Now they can go on feeling sorry for themselves. But what do we get out of it? Zip.

  4. marty says

    If we had set out for Domestic Partnerships as the ultimate goal, we would not have anything other than a commitment registry. The “victim complex crowd” and its loud demand for marriage has forced the religious fascists to settle for domestic partnerships, which are far far better than nothing at all.

  5. daftpunkydavid says

    at wilberforce…. dude (?) you must be blind, man… do you think the “support” of domestic partnerships would have happened if we had set that as a goal?

    it only appears so because we set our sight on full equality; only then did compromise measures like domestic partnerships become viable options.

    please consider the fact that people actually campaigned and spent money and time against a domestic partnership law as evidence that this is not something most people are just willing to give us.

    please also consider that in either maine or washington, the margins were actually pretty thin. if marriage were indeed just a word, than i suspect more people would have approved referendum 71.

    we have to fight. we have to fight for everything we want to get.

  6. Jim Stone says

    Hey happy for you in the NW. Unfortunately my partner and I live in Ohio which has NOTHING!!!!!! We have “Equality Ohio” here from the Human Rights Campaign. I got an e-mail from them today saying we should send our reps in the legislature a “Christmas ornament” with our names on it to somehow grant us rights???? PLEASE!!!!! Here is my rant on YouTube…
    I don’t know about you but I am tired of waiting for my rights!!

  7. says

    @Wilberforce: You have a defeated attitude and that is sad. “We should have asked to sit at the back of the bus the whole time!”

  8. BMF says

    Wilberforce, I hear you. I don’t care what it’s called, I care about the rights. The word marriage conjures images that the words domestic partnership don’t for people– that’s part of the issue. With the words domestic partnership, civil union, etc., you don’t have religious folks thinking that their church has to perform a ceremony. Unfortunately, people don’t make decisions based solely on logic. The scientific research shows that the limbic/emotional center is required for a person to make a decision. So, how people feel is critically important. It is entirely possible to have a domestic partnership that has all of the “rights” of marriage. That’s simply a matter of statutory definition. Wording something in a way that generates less resistance isn’t about conceding defeat or wanting to sit at the back of the bus. It’s about making sure that those folks that need rights actually have the rights. Does anyone notice how much time people in Congress spend getting the right name for bills or how organizations change their name. Words matter and the polls on this issue show a greater antipathy to marriage and much greater receptiveness to domestic partner/civil union, etc.

  9. Beef and Fur says

    Yayyyyyy! Gay Apartheid won! WOO HOO!!!!!!

    I would have viewed this as a victory until I read Mixner’s piece and realized, no, I really don’t want to settle for this seperate but equal bullshit.

    I’m happy for all you Washingtonians who can now get some recognition and rights, but really, folks, we can’t settle for this seperate but equal stuff anymore!

    Or can we?

  10. KK Bloom says

    Wilber clearly doesn’t remember when Vermont’s Civil Union laws were a huge deal and the gay haters were out in force over that. No matter what we “ask” for, they will try to kill it, so why not go for the whole hog?

    And this law in Washington was hardly a slam dunk. The vote was close and the haters struck out hard against it.

  11. Bruno says

    It’s an historical win, but I still find the percentages way too close. It should’ve been at least 55% yes, but as usual, they rolled out the church crowd to the polls in truckloads.

    I think 2012 would be too soon for marriage in Washington. I think it’d be too soon anywhere outside of Massachusetts or Vermont, unfortunately.

  12. Tom says

    Seattle is an awesome town…I’d still be living there if it weren’t for the dreary Winters. Eastern Washington? Not so much.

  13. John says

    It is also important because it’ll stop similar efforts in other states. Keep in mind that in upholding Prop. 8, the California Kangaroo Court had declared that civil rights in this country are defined exclusively by “the people.” Until the U.S. Supreme Court says otherwise, this dangerous legal precedent is now out there for any conservative judge to utilize whenever the issue comes up in another state.

    Thus, the people can decide to remove the right to enter into an domestic partnership at any time. Had the Washington domestic partnership law been repealed, I have no doubt the religious right would’ve started an effort to roll back similar laws in California, Nevada, and Oregon.

    All these Western states have ridiculously low thresholds for forcing a referendum. You only need the signatures of 8% of the voters who participated in the last election. Since off-year elections always produce low turnout, anyone hoping to get an initiative onto the 2010 ballot will have a ridiculously easy time.

  14. Sargon Bighorn says

    Bravo for Washington state! Now deal with the fuckin rain!

    For those that say, “call it what you want just give me the same rights etc” it just shows you don’t totally understand law, nor how legal contracts work, words in legal contracts matter. “Marriage” has meaning. When you use that word a huge image appears in one’s mind. And on a legal level about 1300 rights and responsibilities also come into play. D.P. conjures what? It’s an unknown. And what rights does it bring? Who really knows. In one state maybe one right, in another state maybe 10. Same can be said for Civil Unions, they’re ambiguous at best, and none transient at worst. They don’t cross state lines.

    And bear one thing, a VERY BIG THING in mind. Legal documents through out the country are NOT, I’ll repeat, ARE NOT going to be altered to have “Marriage” “Civil Union” “Domestic Partnership” all on the same line of the legal document to let people KNOW they are all the same. That’s foolish and that’s what saying “Same rights, call it what you want” suggests will happen. It won’t. Fight for Marriage equality, everything else is second best and I don’t pay taxes for second best civil status.

    So, the word Marriage MUST be used, as only that word and none other conveys the desired legal relationship that the two people have entered into. What’s more, everyone else understands what that word means. There is no confusion.

  15. Rovex says

    I think the gay community still doesnt understand the public perception of homosexuality. Sure many think its a sin etc, but thats not our main problem. Most dont think gay marriage is a civil rights issue because they still think being gay is a choice. They think we have the same rights they do because all we have to do is choose to marry a person of the opposite sex and the problem would be gone. Its not like being black, or a woman was, both things you are born with and cant escape.

  16. RicanGeek says

    Words matter. I suggest these expanding civil unions laws and growing
    of supporters of “everything but marriage” also need name: But_ Marriage (yes, it’s supposed to have 2-Ts)

    Use it in a sentence today:
    “I fully support the right of my gay friends to But_ Marriage.”
    “But_ Marriage is a logical first step to gain acceptance and rights, from which we can then expand to other areas!”

  17. princely54 says

    This is great for Washingtonians (I used to be one) and I am so glad for them. But the FEDERAL GOVT needs to move on this and end this silly (from a legal POV its just so clearly wrong) process of states going over and over this and address how the 14th Amendment is being shredded. Time to end ‘separate and not equal’ when it comes to marriage and slam states with it. I hope the case moving towards the Supreme Court (probably by the time Obama’s second court appointment is in) shows how obviously wrong this all is. KEEP FIGHTING!

  18. BMF says

    Saragorn, your “facts” about what will or could happen are merely opinions. As for the word marriage conjuring up images, you’re right about that. It’s that image that is causing straight people to fight against legal recognition of gay relationships.

    As far as civil union or domestic partnership not having meaning, we create new words all of the time and imbue them with meaning. Is using different words inconvenient and sub-optimal, sure. However, it IS another strategy. When one loses any contest, one needs to examine one’s strategy. The “marriage only” advocates crowded out the discussion and made it marriage or bust. I congratulate them on their work on gay public opinion.

    However, we can either continue with the same strategy or be willing to take a hard look at whether we need to modify it.

  19. Brian says

    Repealing DOMA won’t help Washington domestic partners. You would think that HRC or Barney Frank would have realized that by now and put federal recognition of civil unions and domestic partnerships in the draft bill.

  20. says

    As others have pointed out, when CUs first came into being, they weren’t received any better than marriage equality is being received now. The anti-gay right doesn’t want us to have civil rights, no matter what they’re called. But once reasonable people understand that the sky doesn’t fall when we have rights, they begin to take our equality for granted. Thus, CUs in VT became no big deal, and the transition to marriage–a decade later–was possible.

    What happened in WA is progress, great progress. It will have very real meaning for gay couples there. But it is only a step towards full equality. Straight people don’t own civil marriage. Their arguments for exclusivity do not hold water. Separation of church and state is fundamental. If you start from a place of second-class citizenship that is where you will end up. Compromise may be necessary along the way towards full equality, but it should be always recognized as such. There are no valid reasons to deny us civil marriage equality–none.

    Equality means not settling for being herded into a separate category to satisfy those who see us as less than. How a gay person (yes, you, Wilberforce) could interpret that as a “victim complex” is mind boggling.

  21. Justin says

    I don’t care what they call it…just give me the same right NOW! I am tired of seeing people getting deported because their partners are not from the USA. I am tired of being a “second-class” citizen. I am tired of seeing religious groups participating in polical issues and pouring money to stripped a small community rights to love one another and they still have their tax exempt validated. Enough is Enough…if you notice there’s more and MORE hate crimes against our gay people lately ….that’s because we are considered to many …a second-class community with not rights. I am tired of Obama promising things to us and when we need him he’s awol …tired of working with people that are nice to you at work and when the go to church on Sundays they pray for you as if there was something wrong with you for being gay. I love being gay…but it’s getting hard to stay positive when the whole country is against you and your basic rights!

  22. Justin says

    Basically what we are saying is that we want the WORD Marriage or ELSe. In the meantime we have bi national couples being separated by this goverment because we are still waiting for the word MARRIAGE. I don’t call what they call it…I want everyone to feel safe and have the same rights as every american citizen and if it’s going to take another 20 years to get the WORD Marriage then I am willing to wait. Since I am in my 30’s I want my rights now!! I pay taxes and I am a good citizen…I DESERVE MY RIGHTS NOW not in 20 years. You can call it wherever you want…I really don’t care. When you are proud of who you are …a word doesn’t make me better or less. It’s working perfectly fine in England and we should do the same here. Maybe in 20 years when the ignorance is finally gone …then we can ask for the WORD Marriage. But to wait another 5 years to have something that’s mine is absolutely stupid…why wait another 5 or 10 years when I can get it now with a different name? How many couples are suffering from this stupid choice? Let’s get 100% of our rights NOW and then worry about the wording.

  23. DaninSea says

    Congrats to WA (Shame on Maine)! I think all states should stop using the sanctity of marriage as the crutch to limit homosexual rights – this is all about equality. If ‘heterosexual couples’ have such an issue with the possibility that two people of the same sex could be married, then maybe the act of marriage needs to strictly be a ceremony – nothing more. The paperwork, documentation to ‘legalize the process’ is really what counts for people to have equality.

    If a church has no issue in performing a ceremony for same sex couples, then they should be able to (if you are a straight person who is against a ceremony for a same sex couple to express their love and devotion to each other, then don’t attend). If everyone (straight or gay) is allowed to have a ceremony if they choose, and the religious aspect is taken out of it, then there really should not be an issue. Same sex couples simply want (and deserve) the same legal rights as oppostie sex couples – for example, the right to make decisions for their other half should they be hospitalized. It’s simply EQUALITY for all.

  24. says

    Justin, unfortunately you can’t get it now–at the federal level certainly–no matter what you call it. If everyone in this country could have CUs tomorrow that would be a good compromise, but we’re nowhere close to that, and it’s not because we’ll only settle for marriage. You mention England working perfectly fine with civil partnerships (i.e. less than marriage); well, our neighbor to the north, Canada, works perfectly fine with full civil marriage equality. That doesn’t mean that we won’t compromise to provide some protections rather than none, but don’t blame it on the name. Standing up for full equality is not what is keeping us from first class citizenship.