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Sunday Spin: Same-sex marriage, one year out

As of Friday, same-sex marriage has been legal in Washington for a year. So the obvious question is: How much worse off is your marriage now that men can marry men and women can marry women?

Couples who tied the knot in the last 365 days can take a pass on this, considering you’re technically still on your honeymoon – unless you’re like a Kardashian, in which case you’re already dividing up community property. For the rest of you, though, how has your marriage survived after the institution itself was rocked to its very core?

My guess is. . . 

To read the rest of this item, or to comment, continue inside the blog.

23 same-sex couples get licenses in Spokane

Spokane County officials issued 23 marriage licenses to same-sex couples Thursday on the first day that became legal in Washington state.

That was, not surprisingly, the most of any Eastern Washington county, but fairly low compared to the urban counties along the Puget Sound.

King County, which opened at 12:01 a.m. and planned to keep open until 8 p.m.,had  issued 456 licenses as of 4:30 p.m., but it wasn't breaking them out by same-sex or opposite sex applications.

Thurston County, which also opened at 12:01 a.m. to issue licenses to 10 couples chosen by lot, had issued 34 to same-sex couples throughout the day. Pierce County issued 42, Island 25, Kitsap 23, Whatcom 22 and Snohomish 20.

Except for Spokane, no East Side County broke out of single digits and some — Adams, Columbia, Ferry, Garfield and Stevens — didn't have any requests.

State election results, including same-sex marriage law, made official

Gov. Gregoire signs election results with Secretary of State Reed.

OLYMPIA — Washington state took the last step Wednesday in changing its laws to allow same-sex couples to marry.

With about two dozen supporters looking on, Gov. Chris Gregoire and Secretary of State Sam Reed signed documents certifying  vote results certifying that Referendum 74 passedin the Nov. 6 election. 

Certifying results one month after the election is usually a pro forma event. The results for the other statewide elections and ballot measures — including those that  reiterate supermajorities to raise state taxes, allow for charter schools and legalize marijuana use for adults — were signed earlier in Gregoire's office.

But the governor invited supporters of Ref. 74 to her conference room to mark the occasion, and to brag that Washington will be the first of the three states that approved same-sex marriage in the election to issue marriage licenses.

“This is our last step for marriage equality in the great state of Washington,” said Gregoire, who used a different pen for each letter of her name, and distributed the pens among the same-sex couples who gathered for the ceremony.

Reed commended supporters and opponents of the referendum  for a civil campaign over a tough issue.

The law takes effect on Thursday. King and Thurston counties are opening their auditors offices just after midnight to issue marriage licenses, and Pierce County will open at 6:30 a.m.

Spokane County will open its auditor's office at the regular time, 8:30 a.m. It will stay open late on Friday, until 4 p.m.

Bragging rights on same-sex marriage go to WA

Supporters of same-sex marriage in Washington state apparently have something to hold over those other states that approved a similar law change at the ballot box last month.

Not only did Washington have a bigger margin of victory than Maine and Maryland, says Andy Grow of Washington United for Marriage, it also gets the jump on having the law take effect and couples saying “I do.”

The Nov. 6 election results will be certified this afternoon, and they will show the Ref. 74 winning with 53.7 percent of the vote. It was 52.6 percent in Maine and 52.4 percent in Maryland.

The law will take effect at 12:01 a.m. Thursday. King and Thurston counties seem to be competing for the attention of accepting applications at that time. Spokane County's auditor's office is opening at the usual 8:30 a.m. Thursday morning… although it is staying open until 4 p.m. on Friday to handle any extra traffic for folks wanting to get married early next week. Apparently 12/12/12 is a popular date for weddings, possibly for men who forget things like birthdays and anniversaries.

Anyone who gets a license on Thursday in Washington can get married as early as Sunday. Maine's law becomes effective Dec. 29, and licenses can be issued that day. Applications in Maryland could be filed last week, and can be issued Thursday, but weddings can't take place until Jan. 1.

Ballot counts continue: Inslee still ahead, McKenna not conceding

OLYMPIA – Republican Rob McKenna’s campaign insisted he would overtake Democrat Jay Inslee “next week or the week after” as ballot counting continued in Washington’s close gubernatorial race.

But while the percentages improved slightly for Attorney General McKenna, the gap in their vote totals remained about the same – 50,000 more votes for Inslee, the former congressman.

 To read more about this and other close races, or to comment, go inside the blog 

Same-sex marriage foes concede defeat

Spokane County vote on Referendum 74 after Wednesday's ballot count.

OLYMPIA — Opponents of Referendum 74, this afternoon conceded that they will lose the fight over same-sex marriage in Washington.

The latest vote count has Ref. 74 passing with about 52 percent of the vote, or a lead of about 84,000 ballots.

On Wednesday, supporters of the measure declared victory, saying their analysis of ballot returns convinced them there was no way it would fail.  A spokesman for Preserve Marriage Washington, the group mounting the opposition campaign said at that time they believed there was “a path to victory” in later ballot returns.

Today, however, Joseph Backholm, the group's chairman, said the ballots counted Wednesday afternoon and evening showed they were not closing the gap. Instead, the gap was growing.

“We are disappointed in losing a tough election battle on marriage by a narrow margin,” he said.

To view the latest statewide results on Ref. 74, click here.

Backholm blamed the loss on Washington being “a deep blue state and one of the  most secular in the nation” as well as the disparity between the two campaigns in terms of fundraising. He insisted it was not “a turning point” for the nation.

“It's not a turning point when you win on your home turf,” Backholm insisted in a prepared statement.

Washington was one of three states to approve same-sex marriage in Tuesday's election. Same-sex couples will be able to apply for marriage licenses on Dec. 6, the day election results are certified and approved ballot measures become law.

Under state law, couples must wait three days after they get their license to marry.

Ref. 74 supporters declaring victory

OLYMPIA — Supporters of Referendum 74, the state ballot measure that would legalize same-sex marriage, are declaring victory this afternoon, even before any more ballots are counted from the general election.

Opponents say they aren't conceding.

 Washington United for Marriage scheduled an afternoon press conference to say that their analysis shows victory at hand. Spokesman Andy Grow said the campaign had “some of the best minds available” analyze the numbers from last night's ballot count and compare them with long-time voting trends. Based on the strong vote in King County, and the ballots that are likely still coming in, the lead will hold up, Grow said.

That statement prompted congratulations from other supporters, such as Gov. Chris Gregoire and state Sen. Ed Murray, D-Seattle, but skepticism from Preserve Marriage Washington, which spearheaded the opposition.

There hadn't been any new ballots counted since midnight,when WUM supporters described themselves as “cautiously optimistic” but urged patience, Andy Chip of Preserve Marriage said.

Opponents are still behind about 3.5 percentage points, with an estimated 1.3 million ballots still to count. “Although the math is difficult, there remains a path to victory,” Chip said.  

So what happens if the trends turn around in later ballot counts? “We will issue another statement,” Grow said. “But we don't think that's going to happen.”

For the record, Spin Control isn't ready to call this race yet, although it is clear that supporters are in a much better position than opponents.

On the Web: HuffPo profiles state Rep. Walsh

Another example of Washington state politicians getting ink elsewhere: Huffington Post looks at state Rep. Maureen Walsh, R-Walla Walla, noting her stance in support of gay rights and same-sex marriage.

Spin Control readers with good memories might recall a post with a video of her floor speech during the House debate over the bill behind what became Referendum 74.

Ref 74 gets $25,000 from Brad Pitt

The campaign to pass same-sex marriage in Washington state got a contribution Wednesday that is far from it's biggest, but may be from one of its most celebrated donors: Actor Brad Pitt.

And you thought he was busy making perfume commercials.

Pitt recently gave $100,000 to the Washington, D.C., based Human Rights Campaign, which divided that among the four states where same-sex marriage campaigns are being waged: Maine, Maryland, Minnesota and Washington.

It's like one of those public radio pledge drive match arrangements. Pitt is promising to match contributions from other donors. HRC says he sent this message by e-mail: “If you're like me, you don't want to have to ask yourself on the day after the election, what else could I have done?”

Gregoire video appears on anti Ref 74 blog

 

The National Organization for Marriage, which is opposing the ballot measure which would let Washington recognize same-sex marriage, posted a video on its blog that suggests President Obama was hiding his support for such unions for several months.

It's a clip of Gov. Chris Gregoire telling a group that when Obama visited Washington state in February right after she'd signed the bill that's behind Referendum 74, the president whispered in her ear to thank her for that and said “history will be on our side.”

Note the use of the first person plural.

It wasn't until May that Obama announced his support for same-sex marriage, saying up until then only that his position was “evolving.” Gregoire's remarks suggest the evolution was complete months before, NOM contends, wondering if other politicians also were receiving “secret support” from the president to change marriage laws.

So where does this video come from?

Read the rest of this item inside the blog.

Update: Both sides of Ref. 74 campaign in Spokane Tuesday

Expect some action tomorrow for the forces for and against Referendum 74, the ballot measure to affirm the law allowing same-sex marriage in Washington.

The Family Policy Institute of Washington, which is opposing Ref. 74, has invited Rick Santorum, former U.S. senator and GOP presidential candidate, to speak at a luncheon at the DoubleTree Hotel at noon. Tickets are $36, and more info is available by calling 425-608-0242.

Update: Clergy members supporting Ref 74 will hold a “rally for love” in the nearby Convention Center Plaza, with the Rev. Happy Watkins as the keynote speaker, starting at 11:45 a.m.  The local pro-Ref 74 folks are planning a rally starting at 11:15 a.m. at the “grassy area in front of the DoubleTree.”

Meanwhile, Washington United for Marriage, the main campaign organization, is releasing a new ad to counter Santorum. It features state Rep. Maureen Walsh, R-Walla Walla, who spoke passionately in favor of the bill when it was in front of the House earlier this year.

Love’s journey

Washington voters have many decisions to make this fall as we decide who and what will get our vote.

 Referendum 74 seeks to affirm the marriage equality law in Washington state. 

Like many of our political beliefs, we are influenced at first by our theories and principles. But, oh, how our minds can change when we know someone, when we love someone who will be impacted by our principles.

 The story in the Seattle Times reflects the journey for many people, including our governor. We listened to a generation of young people who pointed out the nonsense of the status quo, of keeping people from the rights they are legally entitled to have: to love and have their relationships recognized as others are recognized.  

When our lives on Earth end and we move to another reality, I imagine God will simply say, “I tried to make it so easy for you. I told you how to navigate your physical existence. I gave only one easy guidepost: ‘Love one another.’ And you made it so complicated with all these exclusions. All you had to do was love each other..”

 Perhaps the time has come to legally recognize those who follow that mandate.

(S-R archives photo: Gov. Chris Gregoire is embraced by Rep. Jamie Pedersen, D-Seattle, after the House voted to legalize gay marriage )

Spokane bishop: Vote no on Ref. 74

Spokane’s Catholic bishop is urging members of his diocese to vote against the same-sex marriage law that will appear on the Nov. 6 ballot.
In a letter to parishioners available at weekend services, The Rev. Blase Cupich contends that if Referendum 74 passes, it will redefine marriage and create “a major shift in an institution that serves as the foundation stone of society.” He called same-sex marriage a passionate issue, and called for respectful debate that would “generate light rather than heat.”
Zach Silk, campaign manager for the pro-referendum group Washington United for Marriage, said Cupich’s letter comes as no surprise, because the U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops has a long-standing opposition to same-sex marriage. Seattle Archbishop J. Peter Sartrain urged Catholics in that archdiocese to sign the petitions to put Ref. 74 on the ballot, Silk noted.
But lay Catholics don’t necessarily agree with their clergy on the issue, he said. . .

To read the rest of this item, go inside the blog.

Same-sex marriage campaign gets $2.5 million boost

OLYMPIA — Supporters of a ballot measure to ratify same-sex marriage in Washington state received $2.5 million from the founder of Amazon.com, the campaign announced today.

Washington United for Marriage, which is pushing Referendum 74 on the Nov. 6 ballot, announced  the contribution from Jeff and Mackenzie Bezos this morning. A spokesman said it was the largest single donation to a campaign to legalize same-sex marriage in the country.

It also more than doubles the campaign's total contributions, to about $4.8 million and shows continuing support from the state's high-tech executives. The campaign has also received contributions of $100,000 each from Microsoft's Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer.

Preserve Marriage Washington, the group that gathered signatures to put the measure on the ballot and is urging a no vote to block same sex-marriage, has reported about $250,000 in contributions.

The Washington Legislature passed a bill legalizing marriage between same-sex couples early this year and it was signed by Gov. Chris Gregoire, who had announced her support for the change before the session started. But opponents quickly filed a referendum and gathered the needed signatures, placing the law on hold.

Six states — Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and Vermont — as well as Washington, D.C., have passed laws legalizing same-sex marriage, but no state has approved it through a ballot measure. Washington, Maryland and Maine have same-sex marriage proposals on statewide ballots this fall.

For the top donors to Washington United for Marriage and Preserve Marriage Washington campaigns, click here to go inside the blog.

Referendum signatures forged

OLYMPIA — State officials doing the check on petitions submitted for the same-sex marriage referendum say they found what they suspect are about 1,000 forged signatures. . .

To read the rest of this post, or to comment, click here to go inside the blog.

Ref. 74 petitions have 200k signatures

OLYMPIA — Supporters of a referendum to overturn the state's same-sex marriage law will turn in some 200,000 signatures on Wednesday morning.

The secretary of state's office said Preserve Marriage Washington is scheduled to turn in signatures at 10 a.m., and the group's website says it has more than 200,000 signatures, which is approaching twice the 120,000 needed to qualify for the November ballot.

State officials recommend petition circulators file at least 150,000 signatures to account for the expected rejection rate of about 18 percent. But Referendum 74 supporters are far beyond that, according to their website.

The state will begin checking a sample of the petitions early next week, and should have it certified by midweek.

Meanwhile, Washington United for Marriage, supporters of the law and opponents of Ref. 74, said they are beginning a phone campaign tonight to ask voters to vote yes on the ballot measure to retain the law.

Gay marriage foes challenge ballot language

OLYMPIA — Opponents of same-sex marriage don't like the ballot language that Attorney General Rob McKenna has written for the referendum to overturn the law signed last week.

In a motion filed this week in Thurston County Superior Court, Preserve Marriage Washington argues that the ballot language leaves out a key element of the effect of the law, which will take effect on June 7 if opponents don't gather enough signatures to qualify for the ballot by June 6. That element: the law would render the terms “husband” and “wife” gender neutral.

Voters who read the ballot title are not fully apprised of the legal effects of the law, PMW argues in its request to have the court change the ballot language to something closer to the language proposed when the referendum petition was filed with the state.

Last week, McKenna was criticized by Democrats for using the term “redefine marriage” in the ballot language when that phrase does not appear in the bill. Democrats say that's a term tested by groups opposed to same-sex marriage to influence voters.

To compare the language the sponsors of Ref. 74 submitted with the language McKenna's office proposed, go inside the blog.

The other ballot measure against gay marriage

OLYMPIA — A Thurston County judge has settled on ballot language for Initiative 1192, which would prohibit same-sex marriage by defining marriage as a civil contract between a man and a woman.

This is not to be confused with Referendum 74, which would prohibit same-sex marriage by blocking the bill signed earlier this week by Gov. Chris Gregoire.

It's likely that petitions for both ballot measures will be in circulation at the same time in fairly short order.

I-1192 was filed earlier this year by Stephen Pidgeon, before the debate over the legislative bill took place, and is proactive. It would bans same-sex marriage, period.

Ref. 74 was filed a few hours after Gregoire signed SB 6239, and in that sense is reactive. It would keep that particular law from taking effect.

They could both be on the November ballot if supporters get enough signatures. For Ref. 74, that's about 120,500 valid signatures by June 6. For I-1192, that's about 241,000 signatures by July 6.

Huh? It's a difference in state law between the rules for initiatives and referenda, which have different threshholds and signature gathering periods. Chances are, people who sign one will sign the other, so whether one reaches the ballot but not the other may come down to whether one side has better organization or more money to pay signature gatherers.

If you want to read the official ballot language and summary for I-1192, click on the document.


Documents:

Referendum number is up, by 1

OLYMPIA — The proposed ballot measure asking voters whether they support or oppose the same-sex marriage bill is Referendum 74, the Secretary of State's office said today.

The proposal had been given the number 73 yesterday, when opponents of the law filed for a referendum a few hours after Gov. Chris Gregoire signed the bill. Turns out, however, that 73 was given last year to a proposed challenge of the medical marijuana law. That effort didn't make it to the ballot, but the Secretary of State's office doesn't recycle numbers from unsuccessful petition drives.

Processing the referendum proposal now requires the Attorney General's office to write the ballot title, description and summary. Under the law, that can't take more than five days. The title, description or summary can be challenged, which would result in an expedited hearing in Thurston County Superior Court.

The printing of petitions and signature gathering would likely begin in early March, state elections officials said. Opponents of the law have until June 6 to gather 120,577 valid signatures from registered voters. If they don't, the law takes effect June 7.

If they do, the law is on hold until the November election, and only takes effect in early December if it passes. If it fails, it never takes effect.