Language for Washington State’s Referendum 74 on Same-Sex Marriage is Approved

The language for Washington state's Referendum 74 ballot title and summary was approved by Judge Tom McPhee this morning and will not contain the phrase "redefine marriage" should it appear on the ballot in November, a victory for equality advocates.

The Olympian reports the language is as follows.

WashingtonStatement of subject:

The legislature passed Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill 6239 concerning marriage for same-sex couples, modified domestic-partnership law, and religious freedom, and voters have filed a sufficient referendum petition on this bill.

The concise description:

This bill would allow same-sex couples to marry, preserve domestic partnerships only for seniors, and preserve the right of clergy or religious organizations to refuse to perform, recognize, or accommodate any marriage ceremony.

The ballot-measure summary:

This bill allows same-sex couples to marry, applies marriage laws without regard to gender, and specifies that laws using gender-specific terms like husband and wife include same-sex spouses. After 2014, existing domestic partnership are converted to marriages, except for seniors. It preserves the right of clergy or religious organizations to refuse to perform or recognize any marriage or accommodate wedding ceremonies. The bill does not affect licensing of religious organizations providing adoption, foster-care, or child-placement.

The paper adds:

"The wording choices by McPhee appear to be a victory for the pro-gay side in that it did not say R-74 will redefine marriage, which attorney Austin Nimocks sought on behalf of the Preserve Marriage campaign."

Supporters need to collect 120,577 signatures by June 6 to put it on the ballot.

Tell everyone you know in Washington state to DECLINE TO SIGN the petition to get it on the ballot.


  1. Seattle Mike says

    This is really great. The best argument I heard against using the term “redefine marriage” was the following: When women and African-Americans got the right to vote, did that redefine voting?

  2. Jack says

    “After 2014, existing domestic partnership are converted to marriages, except for seniors.”

    So this law is forcing couples into marriage even if that’s not what they want?

  3. MalaysianHo says

    I am confused.We are not to sign this petition ? Is this the referendum to overturn the same sex marriage bill that is already signed by the governor ?

  4. Ricco says

    Lets be realistic . . . mmkay?

    There will be no problem, at all, finding 120, 577 bigots to sign R-74. They will not even have to stand outside the local Target, as close to a Winn Dixie one is like to find on this side of the Mississippi. All they will have to do is go to church a few Sundays.

    We just need to make sure to do what California proponents of marriage equality failed to do when Prop 8 came up for a vote, we need to vote – vote – vote!!

  5. says

    @RICCO – you are right, people need to vote vote vote. The difficulty for the California voter was we were hit with millions of dollars running ads for Prop 8. During a time when same-sex marriage was one of those “what?” things.

    I can tell you that when same-sex marriage was allowed in San Francisco even I, born and raised here, stood bewildered. You mean we can get married? Really?

    Today, eight years later we are married and our son just turned five. He got his first puppy and married life for Greg and myself remains our happiest dream. AND seven other states grant same-sex marriage! God what a world we live in, huh? Computers, laptops, iPhones, iPads, iClouds – Awesome! :-)

  6. GregV says

    @Jack: I, too, find the multi-facets of this wording awkward.
    Why convert all registered partnerships to marriages “except for seniors?” Why not just let couples regardless of age or sex get a marriage license if they want one, and also allow other domestic partnerships regardless of age or sex?

    A lot of domestic partnerships without marriage licenses (mostly of opposite-sex couples) function as de facto families and are more permanent than a lot of marriages.
    But a couple who has been together for maybe decades should arguably be able to be treated as family without being required to promise the rest of their lives to being a couple (especially when the neighbors making that promise are allowed to break it as many times as they want and be treated as family each time they do it again with new partners).

    I would definitely vote for this since it’s a step forward. But I think it’s a mistake to give it three different facets when these separate issues might need to be renegotiated on future ballots.

  7. says

    @ MALAYSIANHO: the WA legislature has already passed a marriage equality bill and the (Catholic) governor has already signed it. If the bigots had not filed the petition for the referendum, the law would go into effect on June 7th, 2012.

    If the bigots don’t get their signatures by June 6th, the law will go into effect the next day. Unfortunately, with a number of larger churches (I’m looking at you Mars Hill/Pastor Mark sycophants), they will likely get the signatures. So much for keeping religion out of civil affairs.

    Since the decline effort isn’t likely to work, the main focus is on the Approve Referendum 74 campaign, starting…!

  8. Bob says

    The article has confused some people. The passage quoted is for Nov’s ” Yes, I approve” vs “No, make this go away” vote. The tricky mormons and catholic bishops have already started, and they will use lies and fear, as in California.
    WA is a fairly liberal State, but on this issue, its Black voters will go 2/3 against it (as in other States), so votes must be found to make up for them.

  9. Jack says

    David R: Why is saying two people must get married any better then saying those two people can’t?

    There are lots of kinds of relationships, and not everyone wants the word “marriage” in theirs. I see nothing wrong with allowing both domestic partner relationships and marriage relationships, with different legal requirements and responsibilities.

    I assume the over-60 escape clause is for retirement benefits, right?

  10. says

    @ JACK: I don’t really see the need for a DP situation at all. The over-60 was for retirement benefits and something of a gimme when crafting the anything-but-marriage law.

    DPs have (hopefully) outlived their usefulness in WA. To me, if the over-60 couples want to change the way the federal gov’t handles social security, they should deal with that directly. OTOH, I’m not that familiar with the details of this particular aspect of the situation.

    Over all, I think keeping DPs around (in the Corporations division of the state gov’t no less) just muddies the waters about the kind of commitment (and concumbent responsibilities) two people want to make.

  11. Bob says

    @stefan — WA has about 3.6% Blacks to CA 6.2% – over half. The big difference is in the other minorities, which are much smaller in WA.
    The point is that Blacks will turn out in high numbers to re-elect the President. They help to make it a “liberal state”, but not on OUR issue, thus we need independents to vote NO.

  12. Jack says

    David R: This pushes your beliefs on what relationships should be like onto other peoples’ relationships. What’s wrong with different levels of commitment for different relationships? “There’s only one valid kind of relationship” is a very fundamentalist way of thinking.

  13. Patric says

    Great point, Stefan.

    Bob, while it is true that African-Americans turned out to vote in higher percentages than other voters in some states (Alabama, Georgia and North Carolina, for example) during President Obama’s first election, it is decidedly not true that African Americans turned out in greater numbers than other voters in Washington State. 62.6% of all Washington State adult residents voted in the 2008 election but only 36.3% of “Black” adult residents in Washington State voted in the election. In fact, “Black” voters made up 1.9% of all voters in Washington State in 2008 and, even if you add those of mixed race, you still only have 2.5% of all voters in Washington State in 2008. See

    Also, while it’s only one poll, a Wall Street Journal poll released in the past week found the following:

    “The poll showed the biggest jump [in support for marriage equality] among blue-collar voters and African Americans, two key Democratic constituencies. Support among blue-collar voters jumped 20 percentage points to 49%. African-American support for gay marriage rose from 32% to 50%. More than half of Hispanics and voters aged 18 to 34 also voiced support.”

    My point is that it has become very easy to pin our losses in certain states on the voting patterns of African-Americans and, while there is some evidence to support the contribution those patterns made to our defeat in an election like California in 2008, we need to resist the temptation to uncritically employ the same assumptions in each new election, especially given the risk that poses of dividing our own community and of interfering with our need to build bridges with other communities. The bottom line is that there is very little reason to suspect that voting patterns among African Americans in Washington State this November will have a significant impact on the final result of the marriage equality referendum.

  14. Bob says

    @stefan @patric – WOW! I made a small point, and got a “politically correct” series of blasts. Right now, TODAY, Black pastors in Maryland have started heavily to rescind marriage in a referendum, Black commenters on ANY blog you read are overwhelmingly not favorable to us, and not favorable to criticizing use of “faggot” by sports stars and entertainers.
    I am not disparaging Black people, whom I have been around for 50 years, just very sad at their dislike of us.
    I can’t speak to why so few Black folks voted in WA in 2008, but I was in California then, knew what was up, and was sad to see it happen.

  15. Bob says

    and, sorry, this is STUPID
    …… “The bottom line is that there is very little reason to suspect that voting patterns among African Americans in Washington State this November will have a significant impact on the final result of the marriage equality referendum”

    EVERY VOTE COUNTS — especially when you are talking mormon and catholic scheming and money

  16. Patric says

    Defensive much, Bob?

    The fact remains that you’ve made some very confident assertions which are just plain inaccurate.

    Exhibit A: “The point is that Blacks will turn out in high numbers to re-elect the President.” Well, in fact less than 40% of “Black” adult residents of Washington turned out to vote in 2008 so you’re just making things up.

    Exhibit B: “WA is a fairly liberal State, but on this issue, its Black voters will go 2/3 against it (as in other States), so votes must be found to make up for them.” Again, you’re just making things up as you cite absolutely no evidence to support your confidence that 2/3 of African-American voters in Washington will vote against marriage equality this year. In fact, a Public Policy Polling survey released just last month found that 46% of non-white voters would vote to uphold marriage equality this November while 50% of white voters would do so. Now, it’s true that African-Americans probably make up only about 1/6 of non-white voters in Washington but, given the support levels typically registered among Asian and Latino voters, it’s quite unlikely that 2/3 of African-Americans indicated opposition in this poll. Moreover, a Washington Post poll of Maryland voters this January found 53% of African-American respondents opposed to marriage equality. While that was decidedly more than the 24% of white respondents opposed to marriage equality, it is hardly the 2/3 level of opposition which you simply made up. Moreover, I would expect opposition among African Americans to be higher in Maryland than in Washington as Maryland has much more powerful African American churches and is generally a less secular society than is Washington.

    As for “Black commenters on ANY blog you read [being] overwhelmingly not favorable to us”, maybe you need to read some different blogs or acquaint yourself with the fact that some of the most eloquent advocates for marriage equality in this country have been people like former NAACP Chair Julian Bond and the great Congressman John Lewis, not to mention journalists like Eugene Robinson and Jonathan Capehart and elected officials like Newark Mayor Cory Booker. In any event, the comments you are reading from hateful bigots on whatever blogs you are reading provide no basis for your confident assertion that 2/3 of African-Americans in Washington State will vote against this November. I’d suggest not making confident assertions of fact on a public forum unless you are willing to be challenged on your assertions and are ready to back them up.

  17. Terry says

    The reason there is an exemption for seniors I believe is because some of them will lose a lot of their benefits and mess up a lot for them if they are already seniors and married

  18. Jason says

    “@ JACK: yes, only DPs for couples over 60 will remain. Otherwise you’re expected to get hitched. What’s wrong with that?”

    Everything is wrong with that. You are forcing people to do something against their will. By adding one freedom you are taking another away. I say leave the DP’s of any age alone and add marriage. I don’t see how the law books couldn’t handle both.

  19. says

    Does anyone know how the signature gathering is going for the referrendum? Or will we not know until June 6. Meanwhile, the acceptance of gay marriage is going up quickly, and if 50% of voters polled in WA were for it last February, it should fail. But that saddens me for couples who will have to wait past June 6th. Anyone know where to track the hate-mongering dweeb’s success? Thanks in advance. Jim – interested straight guy, not that there’s anything wrong with that (being straight lol)

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