Voters in Washington state have approved marriage-equality becoming the third US state to pass same-sex marriage by popular-vote.
With over three-quarters of ballot papers counted by last night (8 November), the results were 52 percent for versus 48 percent against in a referendum on gay marriage called Referendum-74 (R-74).
R-74 asked people to approve or reject a state law legalizing same-sex marriage that legislators passed earlier this year.
Early indications that gay marriage would be passed in the state were previously reported by GSN.
That law was signed by Governor Chris Gregoire but has never taken effect. It was on hold pending the election’s outcome.
Equality campaigners celebrated yesterday night (8 November) while opponents conceded defeat.
Washington State joins Maine and Maryland as the first three states to pass same-sex marriage by popular-vote.
Quoted in the Associated Press Zach Silk, a spokesman for Washington United for Marriage, called it a ‘historic day’.
‘We have always understood that there are good people on the other side of this issue’.
‘Yet, we remain confident that once people see how much marriage matters to families, they will realize that the love and commitment that marriage embodies only strengthens families, neighborhoods and communities.’
Washington state legislature voted earlier this year to legalize same-sex marriage, and Governor Chris Gregoire, a Democrat and a Catholic, signed the measure into law in February.
The law was blocked pending Tuesday’s vote after opponents submitted a petition for repeal, placing the question on the November ballot.
Governor Gregoire she was proud of voters desicion: ‘Washington has made history, and I couldn’t be prouder. Voters stood up for what is right and what is just and said that all Washington families are equal under the law.
‘I am proud that our LGBT families will no longer be treated as separate but equal. They will be equal.
‘This is a day that historians will look back on as a turning point for equality’.
Preserve Marriage Washington chair, Joseph Backholm stated, blamed the defeat on the ‘liberal’ make-up of the state saying: ‘The results show only that in a deep blue state, with a huge financial advantage, gay marriage activists can win — barely’
The campaign group vowed ‘to continue to educate citizens and policymakers on the timeless truth that real marriage is the union of one man and one woman’.
Police closed off several blocks in Seattle’s Capitol Hill area as more than 1,000 people gathered for a late-night, impromptu election celebration, dancing and chanting ‘74, 74, 74.’
Gay couples in Washington State will be able to officially marry from 9 of December.
The law allows faith based marriage but does not oblige religious organizations who object to same-sex marriage to perform it.
Six other US states — New York, Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont — and the District of Columbia already passed gay marriage bills.