On November 6, 2012 the Washington State electorate voted to approve Referendum 74, giving the right to marry to committed and loving same-sex couples in our state. Lesbian or gay couples could start picking up their marriage certificates and licenses from county auditor offices Dec. 6, a day after the election is certified. However, because Washington state has a three-day waiting period, the earliest the certificate could be signed, making the marriage valid, was Dec. 9, 2012.
ERW would like to thank the people that set this historic goal into action, including our Governor, Christine Gregoire, for signing the bill that the electorate ultimately approved , our State Legislators lead by Representative Jamie Pedersen and Senator Ed Murray, who voted for marriage equality, the staff and governing committee of Washington United for Marriage for their hard work and smart campaign to defend the freedom to marry under Referendum 74, and the broad coalition of non-profit, labor, faith, business, students and educators, and committed individuals and donors who worked so hard and sacrificed so much to see this day happen. We would also like to acknowledge our Director of Marriage Equality and spokesperson, Joshua Friedes for his vision and tenacity, and the ERW Board Members for their role in a long process that ultimately proved fruitful.
In April 2011, Governor Chris Gregoire signed a bill into law that recognized out-of-state same-sex marriages with all the rights and protections given to registered domestic partnerships in Washington state. Washington law had previously only recognized domestic partnerships and civil unions, and out-of-state same-sex marriages received no benefits coverage. The same year U.S Senator Patty Murray, who voted for the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, stated, “I strongly support President Obama’s decision to stop defending DOMA in court, and now it’s time that we take another step forward and fully repeal this law.”
On January 4, 2012 Governor Gregoire, stated, “I have been on my own journey,” and announced her support of same-sex marriage legislation, saying “It is time, it is the right thing to do, and I will introduce the bill to make it happen.” SB 6239, which would legalize same-sex marriage and convert most domestic partnerships into marriages, was referred to the committee for Government Operations, Tribal Relations and Elections, where it passed on January 26, 2012 by a 4-3 vote and was sent to the Senate floor for a full vote. On February 1, 2012, SB 6239, passed the Senate by a vote of 28-21.
Governor Gregoire signed the bill into law on February 13, 2012. The law would have taken effect on June 7, 2012, except that opponents of the freedom to marry collected over the 120,577 signatures needed to take the measure to a state-wide voter referendum and turned them into the Washington Secretary of State on June 6. Marriage equality in Washington State could only come into effect following a November ballot, which was upheld by the public voting to Approve Referendum 74 on November 6, 2012.