Washington State Passes Marriage Equality After 55-43 House Vote


Washington state has passed marriage equality after a 55-43 vote in the House. The bill will now go to Governor Chris Gregoire who introduced, and will sign it.

The Herald reports:

Sen. Ed Murray, D-Seattle, the prime sponsor of the bill passed today, and Gregoire watched the debate from the Democratic side of the chamber.

"It took the courage of many legislators who struggled with a difficult issue and decided to do what they believe is best for all Washingtonians to make today's historic vote possible," Murray said in a statement issued before the vote. "It will bring to an end what has been, for me, a 17-year-struggle in the Legislature to recognize the civil rights of gay and lesbian couples in our state.

"I expect a referendum on this issue, and I remain confident that, ultimately, marriage equality will be Washington's law," he said.

Eli Sanders at Seattle paper The Stranger has a liveblog if you'd like to read the archive, and info on what's next:

Once the governor signs the bill—which has to happen within five days of her receiving it from the legislature—referendum mayhem begins. The National Organization for Marriage recently told the Seattle Times that it will file for a referendum on gay marriage "before the ink is dry on the governor's signature." NOM—which spent millions to repeal marriage equality in California and Maine—will then have 90 days from March 8, the scheduled end of the legislative session, to work with its allies to gather 120,557 valid signatures in support of their referendum. If they don't get the required signatures, gay marriages could begin in mid-June. If they do get the signatures—which they probably will—we'll be voting on gay marriage in November. Assuming it passes, gay marriages will begin after the election is certified sometime in December. But don't get excited yet: No state has ever upheld same-sex marriage at the ballot.

Washington will now become the seventh state (New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire and Iowa, plus D.C.) to allow same-sex marriage.


  1. Chris in SF says

    This is great news! This is what Obama is against. He opposes marriage equality. He wants equal rights for himself but not for us.He is not getting my vote in November. I wish Ron Paul can get to the WH.

  2. MikeBoston says

    Excellent news!!

    Good week for us: Cali court rules in our favour; WA joins the future with marriage equality.

    Of course, ol’ frothy santorum took 3 states so there is still work to do.

  3. Will says

    I was watching this live online…freakin awesome. The remarks made by so many republicans were just awful and discriminatory. It was a narrow margin….from what I understand, they can appeal this if they get a certain # of signatures by June 6th? I don’t know how many signatures or what’s considered a valid signature to begin with. Here’s keeping my fingers crossed it doesn’t prevail, and freedom will continue :)

  4. Mr. E says

    Wonderful news but let’s not open the champagne bottles just yet! Remember that Washington has a referendum process and you can bet those bigots will be in full force to get the signatures and try to repeal the law before it starts! So let’s make sure that the law STAYS and equal marriage comes to Washington state!

  5. Zlick says

    So even though there’s no marriages until after an election, the law still was passed and signed by the Governor. I wonder if that gives any grounds to sue under the precedent just established yesterday in the Perry case that rights cannot be taken away once recognized or granted.

  6. RWG says

    The states which have it need to do away with this referendum nonsense. We are a republic. We elect legislators, who presumably have a broad grasp of the issues and understanding of the Constitution, to make laws for us without the jeers and bloody screams of the fetid mob fueling their deliberations.

    Congratulations Washington! Let’s hope you can keep what you’ve struggled so long to get.

  7. homogenius says


    I believe Ari’s analysis here on TR said that this is a different matter–WA law says that implementation is suspended if a law is sent to referendum. Therefore, unlike CA, marriages would not be performed and the law had not taken effect. Technically marriage equality wouldn’t be “taken away”, the legislation would be nullified without ever taking effect. The referendum is essentially the game going into overtime.

  8. Tyler says

    This is really exciting news. Now the goal becomes: Keeping marriage equality in place in Washington state (by educating about LGBT issues and combatting N.O.M.’s bigotry).

  9. melvin says

    A low threshhold. They need 120K signatures to get it on. Easily done. And Homogenius is of course correct, so yesterday’s decision would not apply.

    The main thing is polling that 55% of WA citizens approve of gay marriage. It is all a matter of getting them to vote. That is why it was smart to arrange it this year, when turnout on the progressive, young side will be high. It is all about turnout. Please remember we don’t stand in line here, we do it all by mail.

  10. says

    guys, ignore Chris in SF – one more anti-black pro-GOP self-hating closeted homosexual.

    not impressive.

    that said, this has not been a great 48 hours for Gay Republicans – each of your parties potential leaders have been promoting anti-gay bigotry and continuing to tell their plebeian flocks that the Equality of LGBT people will somehow come at the expense of the freedom of White Christian American Heterosexuals.

    the way Gay GOP-defenders have been running around like mad trying to ignore it and blame Obama has been both pathetic and hilarious.

    we’re seeing it again – a culture of conservative white males who are just STUNNED that a Black Democrat will do for them what their own white conservative families never would….

    just like when Obama gave a tax break and millions of right-wing Americans screamed “DON”T RAISE OUR TAXES!”

    he didn’t, you dunces. you’re just so bloody racist you didn’t realize you saved money.

  11. GeorgeM says

    Do you think Chris is really Jason? he says the same things hmmmm

    Great News about WA!

    Chris lets get a few things out there, i see you popping up here and there.

    If you believe that a republican will be better on gay issues then vote that way. But when the sh-t hits the fan and it will stand in line.
    You will not find a more Pro gay republican president (Paul WILL lose) then what we have in Obama.
    All (winnable) republican contenders want an amendment banning marriage, Obama does not. Even if Obama NEVER says he agrees with gay marriage he is the only one who wont stop you from having it. He believes the federal government should have to recognize what the state dictates as marriage. He will sign the repeal of DOMA, he will sign ENDA and he will sign safe school legislation protection gay kids even if the town doesn’t want to.

    This is what I don’t think you and most angry gays understand, the president does NOT make laws, he carries them out Congress makes the laws.

    You want DOMA repealed? Get off your -ss and fight Congress
    You want ENDA passed? Get off your -ss and fight Congress
    You want safe school legislation passed to protect our kids? Get off your -ss and fight Congress.

    I don’t mean write a letter, show up be heard, remind them you exist. Don’t take No keep going. Run signature drives make them understand that we are NOT going anywhere. That’s your job, not the presidents. Just because he was elected and stated he wants this and that it does not mean he can or do it alone. We have an obligation and Responsibility to fight harder because he’s there, he’s willing to sign legislation other presidents have threatened to Veto.

    If DOMA, ENDA or safe schools make it to the white house you better be dam sure Obama’s there, the rest of the clowns will laugh as its placed on their desk. Is he perfect HELL NO, but compared to Newt, Mitt and Rick? come on

  12. Billy says

    Any lawyers lurking around the comments section? I got a question. The 9th circ ruled yesterday that Cali could not remove marriage after it was enabled; what impact would that have on WA as NOM moves forward? After marriage passes, is the referendum preemptively stopped? If not, and the ref does pass, would enforcing the ref be stopped? Ie, would gay marriage continue in WA until the en-banc or until the USSC rules? Would marriage be halted in WA until the next Perry stage? Is Perry completely irrelevant to the WA situation?

  13. uffda says

    Georgem, you’ve got my vote and attention…run for something. Tell us more about exactly what to do, not that you haven’t said enough to figure it out. I’ve been rather passive for too long…and it’s impressive that Kiwi, a Canadian, is so gung ho for us Americans.

  14. Eyes For Guys says

    Hurray. Hopefully the referrendum proponents will spend lots of dough raising dough for what ought to be a losing cause. The 9th Cir decision upholding the opinion of Republican Judge Vaughn Walker should help persuade folks to not waiste their $$$ on the campaign. Starbux, MSFT and Boeing all support Gay Marriage in Washington. Their backing will help. WHat we need, tho, rather than calling names, is to encourage PARENTS of kids who are not 100% straight, to speak up and share their stories. What is discouraging is that last week a gay kid in Wenatchee committed suicide after being bullied. It was not in the press in Central Washington where I am. I saw it on Towerload, but not in my paper. We need to support and encourage parents to share their stories with neighbors. When parents come out they will put a face on the hurt of bigotry. This will change votes more than name calling.

  15. Eyes For Guys says

    Billy– I am a Washington lawyer “lurking” here, as you describe. I am not a constitution lawyer, or a legislative lawyer, but … … … what I have gleened from other sources, the referrendum, if passed by a majority of voters, would serve as a prophilactic preventing the law adopted by the legislature from becoming effective. Don’t know the answer to the other question, i.e. “taking away” an existing right. The 9th Cir. presented their decision phrased that way. But what is the difference where a right is not granted in the first place vs taking an existing right away? Seems to be a difference without a distinction. Withholding “married” status on the basis of gener seems discriminatory regardless of how that denial is accomplished. … … just saying… .. ..

  16. BobN says

    Isn’t NOM currently ignoring campaign finance court decisions in Washington state? Didn’t they lose their case there? (It’s on appeal, I suppose) How can they be allowed to participate in an election campaign when they are still breaking the law?

  17. GeorgeM says

    thanks UFFDA
    I’m just tired if it. Just because he got in doesn’t mean our fight ended. Shame on anyone who thought it did. The fight will always be ours, now we happen to have a president who will sign things. Bush threatened to Veto everything pro gay. its ridiculous to think there’s no difference between Obama and the republicans. You want to vote on economic issues fine do that but don’t bit-ch at me when we get nothing or worse. Angry gays need to get over it, he Never said it would happen in one term. Lets say he wins (I hope) it doesn’t end after his 2nd term. we then need to look for the next candidate who will stand with us and continue the fight, who knows maybe that will be a republican.

    I’m to liberal even for CT to run… However I know my reps and senators and local officials well. Joe Courtney, Democrat and I have met many times on DADT. He always supported repealing it but I never let him forget that. I was there with healthcare, I’ve met with him on Medicaid (the residents I work with depend on it), I’ve talked to him on Medicare as well. Joe said to me once laughing “you said that the last time you were here” I told him it bares repeating and kept going. Chris Couti is running against him this time, he’s a state senator in Norwich CT. I debated with him on the phone walking the aisles of Wal-Mart talking about gay marriage and how when he says “family values” he means all but me. I asked him about DOMA, he’s roughly my age 37 and he said “well to be honest I don’t know much about it, I’m a fiscal hawk”. After the ringing left my ears I politely reminded him as my representative I Expect him to know and understand, he is responsible to represent CT on ALL issues. I told him he doesn’t get a hall pass every time a social issues comes up. Bottom line he’s for one man one woman, from CT who has gay marriage…
    He then told me he has a barber, who’s gay, and was talking to him about the transgender bill that came up. He said this guy told him that “they are not really apart of the community and that the act was not really needed”. So now I want to get my hair license so I can tell politicians how to vote. He of course would not tell me who this guy was, I needed a hair cut to.
    Anyone that runs in my area I call them and ask, I want them to know I’m hear and that it matters to me, my parents, my brothers and friends. you have to do that kind of stuff. they have to know that we’re real and we have families. go to the capital and protest. Letters to editor are huge, we all should be doing that. I have to walk my -ss off for Joe this time, I don’t want Chris in there. Joe is 100% pro gay we need him, I need him and I remind him of that.

    On a side note… Chris is Cute!!

  18. Tom in long beach says

    So happy this passed . However, I just hate NOM so much. Oh wait I am being intolerant of their religious freedom. I really wish out of state interest like NOM were not allowed to funnel millions into states to take away our rights. Maybe just maybe this time we will win at the ballot box by the thinest of margins. WA will need a gutsy campaign not afraid to show real people who need marriage equality.

  19. says

    Hello good Washington people and congratulations on your new law! Now to gear up for the fight which we went through 3 years ago here in Maine and to be honest, I still haven’t recovered from it. If anyone has any opportunity to see “Question 1: The Movie,” you must. It tells the story of what we went through in Maine, from both sides of the campaign. It’s very telling and really shows that “Yes on 1″ was not a home-grown effort. NOM still has not disclosed its donors even though they keep losing in court and are breaking the law. I have no doubt you will all go through the same thing in the coming months. I just fervently hope that *this* time the outcome will be different. I also hope that the tide goes the right way for us here in Maine, this time, too.

  20. TruthSeeker_Too says

    Hey Dev: PLEASE keep the faith. Maine was tough, but remember, NONE of the marriage equality supporters are going to change their mind. The other side keeps losing votes (either because they die off faster or because they realize they’re not haters). We need less than 17,000 Mainers to change their mind: that works out to fewer than 6,000 each year. We are winning this fight. It is happening everyday.
    We need to win by larger margins along the Coast and make additional inroads throughout the rest of the state. Work hard and we can celebrate a couple of big wins this November!

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