Washington Same-Sex Marriage Veto Referendum, Referendum 74 (2012)
|Referred by:||New Approach Washington|
The measure asked voters if same-sex marriage should be legalized in the state of Washington.
Those who were against a legislative bill - Senate Bill 6239 (and HB 2516, its counterpart in the state House) - that would legalize same-sex marriage argued at the time that the question should be put to a public vote, therefore began the veto referendum process to put the issue before voters.
SB 6239 was supported by Gov. Christine Gregoire. The bill, sponsored by state Sen. Ed Murray (D) and Rep. Jamie Pedersen (D), provided "equal protection for all families in Washington by creating equality in civil marriage and changing the domestic partnership laws, while protecting religious freedom." On February 1, 2012 the Washington State Senate voted 28-21 in favor of the proposed bill.
- See also: 2012 ballot measure election results
The following are official election results:
|Washington Referendum 74|
Election results via Washington Secretary of State's website.
Text of measure
On March 13, 2012 Thurston County Superior Court Judge Thomas McPhee ruled that the proposed referendum's language would not include the words "redefine marriage." Supporters of the targeted bill, SB 6239, stated that their proposal did not "redefine" marriage. Supporters of the referendum, however, contested that. According to reports, McPhee's ruling was final and could be appealed.
"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 ballot language read:
|“|| 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.
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.
Should this bill be:
[ ] Approved
[ ] Rejected
The following is information obtained from the supporting side of the legislative bill, or those who will be checking Approved on the ballot box in November:
- President Barack Obama announced his support for same-sex marriage in Washington.
- According to a column written by Washington residents Greg Jones and Anne Buckley Jones, and published by The Spokesman-Review, "As a Catholic couple married for over 30 years, we recognize the impact of a supportive community and culture as we strive to live out a lifetime promise to love and care for each other. If responsible same-sex couples are willing to make a solemn vow of love and commitment to each other, we will not stand with those who wish to deny them this right."
The following are arguments that were made for the measure in the "Arguments for" portion of the state voter guide:
- "Imagine if you couldn’t marry the person you love? Parents dream of their children being happily married and settled into a lifetime, loving relationship. They don’t dream of walking their son or daughter down the aisle into a domestic partnership. Marriage matters."
- "The law allows caring and committed same-sex couples to be legally married. Committed same-sex couples are our neighbors, our friends and family, our co-workers. They should have the freedom to marry and build their lives together, without government interference. It’s not for us to judge, or to deny them that opportunity."
- "Think of your own reasons for wanting to marry - you can imagine why same-sex couples dream of the happiness, security and responsibility of marriage. Same-sex couples may seem different, but when you talk with a committed same-sex couple, you realize they hope to marry for similar reasons as everyone else - to share and build a life together, to be there for each other, in good times and bad, in sickness and in health, and to make that special vow before family and friends to be together forever."
- "We are all God's children. This law guarantees religious freedom and won't change how each religion defines marriage. It protects the rights of clergy, churches, and religious organizations that don't perform or recognize same-sex marriages."
The following is information obtained from the opposing side of the legislative bill, or those who will be checking Rejected on the ballot box in November:
- Seattle Catholic Archbishop J. Peter Sartain stated, “Our vote on Referendum 74 is about what we believe God has been doing from the creation of the world and how he invites us to be partners in continuing his work until the end of time."
- Spokane Bishop Blase Cupich stated, "Redefining marriage is a step backward in the progress we have made in protecting children...It is important to state that the Catholic Church’s stance on Referendum 74 is not ‘against’ anything and especially not ‘against’ anyone. To the contrary, it is our stance ‘for’ the gift of marriage, ‘for’ God’s plan for human society, ‘for’ husbands and wives, ‘for’ children. To suddenly change the God-given and time-honored understanding of marriage would be a very harmful thing for our state and for the world."
- Opponents of the bill, including Christopher Plante of the National Organization for Marriage and Joseph Backholm of the Family Policy Institute of Washington, urged lawmakers to put the issue to a popular vote. Ken Hutcherson of the Kirkland, WA Antioch Baptist Church has become the spokesperson for The Stand for Marriage Coalition, and indicated that if the law passes, the group will begin to gather signatures to put a referendum on the ballot to overturn the law this fall.
- According to Chuck Whitfield, a co-owner of Whitfield's United Insurance Agencies, Inc., self-described conservative Christian, and member of the organized petition effort: "Our society is based on that premise. It's for procreation. It's the basic structure to society, to pass our values and beliefs on to other generations -- and it's under attack. Personally, I do not believe it's good for society to have same-sex marriage."
- The Seattle Times stated, "The public recognizes the right of same-sex couples to marry has no impact on the lives and choices of heterosexual couples. These very personal decisions are driven by the powerful desire to create and nurture loving, supportive relationships and build families. Society benefits."
- The Tacoma News Tribune 
- The Spokesman Review 
- The Columbian (Vancouver) 
- The Bellevue Reporter 
- The Olympian 
- The Kitsap Sun 
- The Wenatchee World 
- The Tri-City Herald 
- The Yakima Herald 
- Walla-Walla Union Bulletin 
- The Sammamish Review 
- The Daily News (Longview) 
Path to the ballot
- See also: Washington signature requirements
In order to qualify for the ballot, veto referendum petitions required signatures equal to 4% of the votes cast for the office of governor. Those signatures needed to be turned in by June 6, 2012.
Once a Referendum Measure is certified (sufficient signatures have been filed and certified as valid), it is placed on the next state general election ballot for the voters to decide. A "Yes" vote approves the law as passed by the Legislature. A "No" vote rejects it.
Opponents of the bill had to collect at least 120,577 signatures to put the referendum on the November 2012 ballot
On May 30, the group again announced their signature gathering efforts' status, claiming that they had enough signatures with at least 150,000 signatures on hand. The group stated they planned to turn in those signatures on June 5, 2012, the day before the deadline.
Preserve Marriage Washington, the group leading the referendum effort, turned in the signatures, which were reviewed by the secretary's office over the subsequent week to see if the measure could be placed on the November 2012 ballot. Then on June 12, 2012, it was reported that the Washington Secretary of State's office certified the measure for the ballot after a random check of the submitted signatures.
- Washington Domestic Partners Rights and Responsibilities, Referendum 71 (2009)
- Washington "Definition of Marriage" Initiative (2012)
- Washington Secretary of State: From Our Corner,"Nearly 10,000 domestic partnerships registered in WA," February 2, 2012
- Associated Press,"Ballot challenge certain for WA gay marriage bill," February 2, 2012
- Associated Press,"House panel OKs bill to legalize gay marriage; Senate vote soon," January 30, 2012
- King5.com, "Referendum on Washington gay marriage law is R-74", February 14, 2012
- Seattle PI.com, "Same-sex marriages make history", December 6, 2012
- GoPride.com,"Gay marriage bill clears Washington Senate panel," January 27, 2012
- Washington State Legislature, "Text of Senate Bill 6239," retrieved January 24, 2012
- Washington State Legislature, "Text of House Bill 2516," retrieved January 24, 2012
- The Seattle Times,"Historic Senate vote clears way for gay marriage in state," February 1, 2012
- Reuters.com, "A bill to legalize gay marriage in Washington state won final legislative approval", February 8, 2012
- The Seattle Times, "Ballot wording finalized for Referendum 74", March 27, 2012
- The Olympian, "Judge frees gay marriage referendum for signatures", March 13, 2012
- Spokesman.com, "Guest opinion: We’re Catholic and we’re for Referendum 74", July 14, 2012
- Seattle PI, "Seattle’s archbishop says Referendum 74 is about God", Retrieved September 19, 2012
- The New American, "Washington state Governor puts "gay" marriage on fast track," January 9, 2012
- Chicago Tribune, "Same-sex marriage has the votes to pass in Washington," January 23, 2012
- Herald Net, "Gay marriage opponents not afraid to gather signatures", March 25, 2012
- Seattle Times, "Editorial: It's time for Washington voters to approve same-sex marriage", September 15, 2012
- The News Tribune, "Yes Vote on Marriage Equality"
- Spokesman Tribune, "Editorial: Affirm R-74 because state has no role in personal choice", September 17, 2012
- Columbian, "Uphold legalized gay marriage: Yes", September 16, 2012
- Bellevue Reporter, "Vote ‘yes’ on R-74, marriage for all", October 25, 2012
- The Olympian, "A vote for R-74 is a vote for marriage equality and basic rights", October 16, 2012
- The Kitsap Sun, "New same-sex marriage law sets dangerous precedent, October 19, 2012
- The Wenatchee, "R-74 affirms our changing norms", October 6, 2012
- The Tri-City Herald, "Same-sex marriage: Yes", October 14, 2012
- The Yakima Herald, "Endorsements: All couples deserve the right to wed", October 19, 2012
- Walla-Walla Union Bulletin, "Voters should affirm gay marriage law", October 21, 2012
- The Sammamish Review, "Approve R-74", October 17, 2012
- The Daily News, "New same-sex marriage law sets dangerous precedent", September 28, 2012
- Advocate.com, "Slow Start for Marriage Equality Repeal Effort in Washington", April 9, 2012
- Herald Net.com, "Gay marriage opponents closer to qualifying R-74", May 9, 2012
- Seattle Times, "Backers say anti-gay-marriage referendum closer to qualifying for ballot", May 30, 2012
- The Associated Press, "Opponents block Washington state gay marriage", June 6, 2012
- The Olympian, "R-74’s 232,000 signatures put gay-marriage on hold", June 6, 2012
- KATU.com, "Wash. referendum on same-sex marriage qualifies for fall ballot", June 12, 2012