Washington’s Gay Marriage Law Heads to the Ballot


Washington’s gay marriage law will be put to a public vote in November after opponents managed to gather enough valid signatures to trigger a ballot campaign.

Reports the Washington Secretary of State blog:

R-74 qualified after the signature-verification check was completed early Tuesday afternoon and then certified, clearing its way onto the ballot. Since the 247,331 signatures turned in by the sponsors were far more than the minimum of 120,577 valid signatures from registered Washington voters needed to make the ballot, a 3 percent sample check was conducted. Of the 7,561 signatures that were sampled during the check, 6,877 were accepted and the rest were rejected because the signer is not registered to vote, the signature on the petition did not match the signature on the voter registration record, or the voter signed the petition more than once.

The referendum will ask voters whether they wish to “approve” or “reject” the state’s new marriage equality law that was signed into law by Governor Gregoire in February.

The Secretary of State blog also notes the following with regards to potentially fraudulent signatures:

Now that the R-74 signature check is completed, the Elections Division will conduct a full review of about 1,000 questionable signatures that were discovered last weekend.  Before starting their 3 percent random sample test on Sunday, Election Division crews found about 50 petition sheets that they suspect may be fraudulent. The signatures were mostly names of legitimate registered voters, but the signatures on the petitions did not match the signatures in the voter registration records.

The questionable petition sheets were set aside and did not affect the R-74 signature-check.

Equality activists were always mindful that the referendum could and probably would happen, especially since opposition forces began trying to block the law even before it had passed.

There is a modest reason to be hopeful that the law might triumph, though. Washington remains one of the few states where the voting public has chosen to affirm gay partnership rights at the ballot. This was during the 2009 “Referendum 71″ where a majority of voters decided to uphold the state’s so-called “everything but marriage” law, despite predictions that it would fail.

Recent polls suggest that the voting public is in favor of allowing gay couples to marry (around 54%), but there has been a marked disconnect between how people poll prior to the vote and how they actually vote come referendum day.

Equality foes, however, have not channeled as much money into the Washington campaign as yet, preferring instead to concentrate their efforts on Maryland and, above all, Minnesota, where the state’s gay marriage ban could be codified at the ballot come November.


Related Reading:

Lawsuit Over Washington’s ‘Prejudiced’ Marriage Referendum Title

Gov. Gregoire Signs Washington Marriage Equality Bill

Microsoft Supports Marriage Equality in Washington

WA Lawyer Moves to Repeal Gay Marriage (Before It’s Even Been Legalized)



Image used under the Creative Commons Attribution License with thanks to alex-s.


Anita Wisch
Anita Wisch5 years ago

Just another example of trying to confuse the voter with terminology that in it's writing, make the average voter think that to vote yes means you dis-approve the gay marriage law, and no means you approve. (That confusing language is the same thing that they did in California on prop. 8).

donald baumgartner

GOOD news!!

Rob Keenan
Rob Keenan5 years ago

At least two people who agree with you,Terry T.,are Rachel Maddow and me. As a straight Washington state voter,I will vote YES in SUPPORT of MARRIAGE EQUALITY. The opponents of marriage equality probably did get a REFERENDUM on the ballot,instead of an INITIATIVE hoping to confuse voters,B.Bufiny T.But two years ago this was tried with the "Marriage in Everything But Name civil unions law,but the law survived. So I'm hopeful the tactic will fail again. In which case,because public support for marriage equality is increasing,I'm very optimistic Referendum 74 will be approved.But a real good voter turnout in the West,more Liberal side of the state will probably be necessary for that to happen.

Terry T.
Terry T5 years ago

Disgusting that someone's CIVIL RIGHTS should be subject to Popular Vote.

John B.
John B5 years ago

Thanks Steve for the article.I have two friends in Washington who are very optimistic marriage equality will be upheld by the voters.

Joe R.
Joe R5 years ago

So nice to put human rights to a popular vote. Shameful!

BMutiny TCorporationsAreE

Washington State Voters who SUPPORT Marriage Equality, will have to vote YES to APPROVE Referendum 74 in order to KEEP the Marriage Equality Law as it is!!!!!!!

The Washington State Legislature PASSED a Law for Marriage Equality -- and the Reich-wing bigot FOES of Equality, "put a hold on [Gay couples'] happiness", according to Marc Solomon, national campaign director of Freedom to Marry; "forcing them to...... fend off a referendum on whether or not they can get married." {Seattle Gay News, June 8}

So, there might be some confusion about voting YES on Referendum 74; which we did not want people to SIGN!
{They used paid signature gatherers for Ref 74; ones who often travel from State to State because they are hired by a Company -- there is a strong possibility of Fraud, since the signature gatherers are paid by the signature, and may not get paid at all! It is VERY EXPLOITATIVE work for the signature gatherers! The Reich wing OFTEN uses Paid signature gatherers, who do NOT represent "real" Public Opinion!}

If we make it past the confusion -- the INTENDED confusion!!! -- there is then a good chance Washington State Voters will vote FOR the Marriage Equality Law already-passed by the State Legislature -- since that IS Majority Opinion in Washington State. The Reich Wing has seemingly infinite means, and money, for sowing CONFUSION among voters.... since they KNOW they CAN'T WIN, LEGITIMATELY......

Caitilin Kane
Caitilin Kane5 years ago


Terry Vanderbush
Terry V5 years ago


Bob P.