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Both sides seek immediate ruling in challenge to Idaho’s same-sex marriage ban

Four couples suing the state over Idaho's ban on same-sex marriage are asking a federal judge to rule in their favor without a trial, the AP reports, contending the facts of the case and recent federal court rulings elsewhere make it clear that Idaho's marriage laws violate the Constitution. The defendant in the case, Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter, also is asking the judge for an immediate ruling, contending that states and not the federal government have the right to define marriage and that same-sex marriages would harm Idaho's children. Both sides made their arguments Wednesday in legal briefs filed in Boise's U.S. District Court; click below for a full report from AP reporter Rebecca Boone.

Judge rules Idaho attorney general can intervene in same-sex marriage case

A federal judge has ruled that Idaho's attorney general can intervene in a lawsuit challenging the state's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, even though Gov. Butch Otter is already a party in the case. U.S. Magistrate Judge Candy W. Dale made the ruling Tuesday, reports AP reporter Rebecca Boone; click below for her full report. Attorneys for four same-sex couples who are challenging the ban in court had objected, saying the state already was represented; they sued both Otter and Ada County Clerk Christopher Rich. Dale said because of the weighty and controversial issues in the case, she wanted to be sure that Idaho's stance was fully represented.

Wasden files motion to dismiss same-sex marriage court challenge

Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden filed a motion Thursday seeking to dismiss a lawsuit that challenges the state's voter-approved same-sex marriage ban, the AP reports, arguing that courts haven't ruled that same-sex marriage is a fundamental right. Wasden filed the motion as a representative of Ada County Clerk Chris Rich. He also is attempting to intervene in the case, but a federal judge has not yet ruled on that move; click below for a full report from the Associated Press.

Otter, Bedke, Hill all pledge to defend constitutional ban on same-sex marriage

House Speaker Scott Bedke and Senate President Pro-Tem Brent Hill both agreed with earlier comments from Gov. Butch Otter this morning about defending Idaho’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage from a legal challenge. Otter said Idaho voters enacted the measure into the Constitution, and the state has a duty to defend that enactment. “My responsibility is to enforce the law and to obey the Constitution,” Otter said; four same-sex couples are now challenging the ban as unconstitutional in federal court.

Said Hill, “Is it a wise use of funds? It’s always a wise use of funds to defend our Constitution.” He said both the governor and the Attorney General have that duty.

Catching up on a holiday week’s news…

There’s not usually a lot of news over the holidays, but there was some last week while I was gone. Here’s a quick roundup:

Wolf derby: A federal judge on Friday declined to block a “Predator Derby” scheduled over the weekend in Salmon targeting wolves and coyotes, ruling organizers weren’t required to get a special permit from the U.S. Forest Service. Idaho For Wildlife, the sponsoring group, reported that by the end of the derby yesterday, no wolves had been shot but 21 coyotes were.

Idaho airman killed: Sandpoint Air Force Capt. David Lyon died Friday in Kabul, Afghanistan, after his vehicle was hit by an explosion. Lyon, 28, was about a month away from completing his year-long deployment to Afghanistan; he was an Air Force Academy graduate, a five-year Air Force veteran, and a renowned track star at Sandpoint High School. There’s a full report here at spokesman.com.

Gay marriage: Four couples challenging Idaho’s same-sex marriage ban asked a federal judge on Thursday to block the state from intervening in their lawsuit, which was filed against Idaho Gov. Butch Otter and Ada County Clerk Chris Rich. Attorney General Lawrence Wasden responded, “I have an obligation to defend the Constitution and the statutes of Idaho, and that's what we intend to do.” The Idaho case is developing as judges in New Mexico, Ohio and Utah have ruled in favor of same-sex marriage.

Megaload rolls: A giant shipment of oil field equipment bound for the Canadian oil sands drew spectators and a handful of protesters as it moved into Idaho, spending a week in the Marsing area due to weather delays. It traveled nearly 100 miles over the weekend, moving only at night, but will take a break over the New Year’s holiday.

Bowl loss: Oregon State beat Boise State 38-23 in the Hawaii Bowl on Christmas Eve, snapping a five-game losing streak for OSU. BSU played without starting quarterback Joe Southwick, who was sent home for a team rules violation, but then went public, saying he was wrongly accused of urinating off a hotel balcony and had taken a lie detector test to prove his innocence. It was an odd end to a tumultuous season for the Broncos, who just lost prized coach Chris Petersen to the University of Washington; new coach Bryan Harsin takes over after the bowl loss.

Duck politics: The A&E Network ended its suspension of Duck Dynasty reality show star Phil Robertson for his controversial remarks about homosexuality and race in a magazine interview, after the rest of the cast refused to go forward without him. Former Idaho House Speaker Lawerence Denney, who is running for Idaho Secretary of State, announced that his March fundraiser with Robertson will proceed as planned, saying, “Our family proudly stands in support of the Robertson family in its modeling and expression of our Christian family values and heritage.”

Federal lawsuit challenges Idaho’s ban on same-sex marriage

Four same-sex couples from Boise filed a federal lawsuit today challenging Idaho’s ban on gay marriage and its laws that refuse to recognize same-sex marriages from other states. The four couples, three of whom are raising children, include Sheila Robertson and Andrea Altmayer, who applied for a marriage license at the Ada County Recorder’s Office on Wednesday, but were rejected because they are a same-sex couple. They have a four-year-old son. Another couple named in the lawsuit had the same experience, the same day.

The lawsuit, in which the four couples are suing Idaho Gov. Butch Otter and Ada County  Recorder Chris Rich, both in their official capacities, charges that Idaho’s ban on same-sex marriage violates both the due process and the equal protection guarantees in the U.S. Constitution. Idaho’s ban also forbids recognition of civil unions; the sweeping ban was approved by Idaho voters in 2006 with 63 percent voting in favor. It states that “a marriage between a man and a woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this state.”

Altmayer said in a news release, “Because Sheila is not recognized as a legal parent of our son, I fear what would happen to our family if I became ill and unable to make decisions for him. If we could marry, we would be legally recognized as a family and would have all the same legal protections as others.”

The four couples are represented by Boise attorneys Deborah A. Ferguson and Craig Durham and the National Center for Lesbian Rights. They include university instructors, a teacher of deaf children, and a military veteran who served with the Idaho National Guard in Iraq; all are women. The lawsuit asks that Idaho’s constitutional ban and all laws forbidding recognition of same-sex marriages be voided, and that the state permit marriage licenses to be issued to same-sex couples. You can read the complaint here.

Lawmaker questions Idaho tax rule changes re same-sex couples

Here's a news item from the Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A state lawmaker contends Idaho's tax collectors risk violating the U.S. Constitution by requiring same-sex couples who are legally married elsewhere to do extra work when filing state income taxes. Boise Democratic Rep. John Gannon, a lawyer, says litigation in Ohio suggests Idaho's new rules requiring married gay couples to recalculate state taxes as singles after filing joint federal returns could be vulnerable. Recently, an Ohio federal judge ordered the state to recognize a gay couple's marriage in New York despite Ohio's constitutional ban. The judge's rationale was Ohio recognizes opposite-sex marriages contracted elsewhere but otherwise illegal in Ohio. Idaho follows a similar policy, Gannon says, making it potentially discriminatory now to single out gay couples on their taxes returns. The Idaho Tax Commission contends its new rules are legal.

Why Idaho changed its tax-filing rules this week…

Idaho state Tax Commission David Langhorst says the commission wasn’t taking any policy stand when it adopted new rules this week that will have the effect of forcing Idaho same-sex couples legally married elsewhere to recalculate their federal income taxes from joint returns, in order to file separately in Idaho. That’s because Idaho’s state income tax returns, like those in many states, are based on the taxpayer’s federal returns. Idaho’s previous rules required taxpayers to use the same filing status on their Idaho returns that they used on their federal returns. But now that the IRS has ruled that same-sex couples who were legally married in states that permit such marriages can file jointly, there was a conflict between that rule and Idaho’s constitutional provision banning state recognition of same-sex marriage.

According to the Tax Foundation, 24 states both ban same-sex marriage and have state income tax systems that are tied to the taxpayer’s federal returns. “Every one of them is struggling with this,” Langhorst said. “The CPAs were really the ones calling us and saying, ‘You guys have to do something about this.’”

Gale Garriott, executive director of the Federation of Tax Administrators, said, “For those that recognize same-sex marriage, I don’t think it’s going to be much of an issue at all. For those that don’t, and have to tell each of the taxpayers how to identify their share of the joint income and how that affects their forms, that could be a little bit of a challenge.”

However, that same challenge previously was in place for states that recognized same-sex marriage when the IRS didn’t, like Massachusetts and Connecticut. In those states, if their state income tax was tied to the federal system, same-sex couples had to re-calculate between their state and federal returns in order to file jointly with the state, but separately with the IRS.

It’s not an issue in Washington state for two reasons: Washington recognizes same-sex marriage, and it doesn’t have a state income tax.

The Idaho Tax Commission’s new rules say the only taxpayers who can file joint state income tax returns are those whose marriages are recognized under Idaho law. New tax form instructions for 2013 direct those who file federal joint returns as a same-sex couple to file their state returns as single or head of household. They can either re-do their federal tax forms to figure out the differences, or submit the calculations on a worksheet.

“It is a lot of work,” Langhorst said. But, he said, “It is the only way that we could avoid the real headache of rejecting their returns. That would be the alternative. Then they would not have legally filed.”

Garriott praised Idaho officials for establishing their new rules early. “If people are given good instructions and plenty of notice, and even some examples, then it shouldn’t be that big of a problem,” he said.

Idaho changes state income tax forms to require same-sex couples to recalculate after federal filings

Idaho has changed its 2013 state income tax forms to require same-sex married couples who now will be filing joint returns at the federal level to recalculate their taxes and file separately for their state returns, the AP reports. “Your Idaho filing status must be the same as the filing status used on your federal return,” according to draft instructions posted on the Idaho Tax Commission's website. “This requirement does not apply to same sex couples who file a joint federal return; the State of Idaho does not recognize same sex marriages.” Click below for a report from AP reporter John Miller.

Sunday spin: Initiative predictions usually wrong

Opponents of two proposed charter changes for Spokane won their fight to keep the initiatives away from voters when Superior Court Judge Maryann Moreno on Friday barred them from the November ballot.

Cue the huge sighs of relief from the home builders and various nice-sounding organizations fronting for local businesses. The groups insisted the two proposals were illegal and “if enacted they would have cause serious harm to Spokane and our economy,” Michael Cathcart, government affairs director for the home builders said shortly after Moreno ruled.

An appeal is possible, so this might be hashed out for months. But if anything is certain about initiatives it is their very uncertainty. Dire predictions by opponents of what a particular ballot measure will do are almost always off target. . .

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

Defense Department announces same-sex benefits

Following several declarations from Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel the Pentagon would be extending health care and housing benefits to same-sex couples in the military, the Department of Defense announced Wednesday they would be available to employees Sept. 3.

In a news release, the Department cited the U.S. Supreme Court's finding that a portion of the Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional on June 26 as the basis for extending benefits. “Entitlements such as TRICARE enrollment, basic allowance for housing (BAH) and family separation allowance are retroactive to the date of the Supreme Court’s decision,” the Department said in its release.

Benefits are only available once couples present a valid marriage license. The Department will grant leaves for same-sex couples to travel to states where same-sex marriage is permissible in order to obtain that license, the news release said. Thirteen states, including Washington, and the District of Columbia currently permit same-sex marriage.

“It is now the Department's policy to treat all married military personnel equally,” Hagel said in a memorandum to Defense employees.

Court ruling expands rights for WA same-sex couples

OLYMPIA – Supporters of Washington’s same-sex marriage law called Wednesday’s Supreme Court decisions a major step forward for gay and lesbian couples, but warned it’s not the end of the road. There are more than 1,000 federal rules and regulations that will have to be studied, and likely more court battles ahead.

“We’re on a long road and today was a Mach 1 step forward,” Rep. Laurie Jinkins, D-Tacoma, said. “It doesn’t mean we’re at the endpoint.”

When the Legislature approved a same-sex marriage law last spring and voters affirmed it in the November elections,  that invalided the state’s version of the Defense of Marriage Act. But same-sex couples weren’t eligible for some federal benefits, Sen. Ed Murray, D-Seattle, the bill’s prime sponsor, said. . . 

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

How the rulings impact Idaho…

Here’s a link to my full story at spokesman.com on the impact in Idaho of this morning’s landmark U.S. Supreme Court decisions on same-sex marriage; Idaho’s sweeping ban on same-sex marriage and civil unions won’t change. However, same-sex couples living in Idaho who were married in other states may qualify for some recognition in federal programs or benefits, depending on how the Obama Administration and Congress react to the rulings.

Meanwhile, supporters of this morning’s rulings have scheduled a rally on the state Capitol steps at 4:30.

Obama Administration could play key role in how decision affects Idaho same-sex couples married elsewhere

Here’s the latest from the ACLU on how this morning’s U.S. Supreme Court rulings could affect same-sex couples living in Idaho who were legally married in other states: It depends. For some federal programs, the ACLU, which brought the case that resulted in the federal Defense of Marriage Act being overturned, says the Obama Administration could decide through regulation to extend recognition. For others, including Social Security benefits, any changes would require an act of Congress.

 “Under current law, the federal government typically defers to the states in designating whether a couple’s marriage is valid,” said Monica Hopkins, Idaho ACLU director. “There’s no one rule across all federal programs, as to whether the validity of a marriage is determined by where a couple is living, which is the place of domicile, or where the couple got married, which is the place of celebration. So that’s the question there. … . So right now, I would say same-sex couples that reside in Idaho that were legally married in one of the 13 states or D.C. are in a sort of limbo, while they wait for the administration to implement this decision, hopefully swiftly and smoothly, and apply all relevant statutes.” Said Hopkins, “Much of the uncertainty can be completely corrected by saying it’s the place of celebration.”

She added, “We concur with the Attorney General – this doesn’t change anything about Idaho’s marriage laws. However, DOMA is a different question. … Now the question is up to the Obama Administration.” President Obama issued a statement today saying he’s directed top officials to review all the relevant statutes and implement the decision “swiftly and smoothly.”

Kim Beswick, a high-tech worker from Boise who has two young children with her same-sex partner and has lived in the state for two decades, welcomed the rulings. “Idaho unfortunately isn’t leading the way on this issue,” she said. “We have the constitutional amendment in place that absolutely forbids not only marriage but any of the individual rights of marriage. … I think these rulings show that’s certainly going to be at some point on the wrong side of history.” But she said the DOMA ruling could affect her family on everything from end-of-life decisions to federal taxes. “That has a big impact on us in a pretty far-reaching way.”

One way some Idahoans could be impacted…

Idaho ACLU Executive Director Monica Hopkins says the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision today on the federal Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, leaves open one question that could affect Idaho: What about same-sex couples who legally married in another state, but now reside in Idaho? Would they be eligible for federal benefits like family medical leave and Social Security survivor benefits?

“There are 1,100 places in federal laws and programs where being married makes a difference,” said Hopkins, whose organization brought the DOMA case on behalf of Edie Windsor, an elderly New York resident who was required to pay $363,000 in estate taxes after her same-sex spouse passed away, though the two had been legally married in Canada and the state of New York recognized the Canadian marriage.  Windsor wouldn’t have owed any estate tax if she’d been married to a man.

“Now what we have to do is kind of untangle what this DOMA decision means,” Hopkins said, “because it has federal applications, but what does it mean for Idahoans who were legally married in a state that legally recognizes those marriages, but reside in Idaho?” Hopkins said she’ll be participating in a conference call mid-day today with the ACLU’s national attorneys to address that and other questions about the decisions.

David Adler, director of the Andrus Center for Public Policy at Boise State University and a constitutional scholar, said, “I think the opinion is unclear on the issue of whether same-sex couples married in another state who move to Idaho are going to be entitled to some federal benefits. I think there’s room in the opinion to draw the conclusion that they will be entitled to some benefits, including (federal) tax filings, but it’s not immediately clear.”

Adler said, “The reasoning in the opinion employed by Justice Kennedy is going to have national implications for the discussion and debate on gay rights and same-sex marriage as it goes forward in this country.” He added, “While the immediate opinion does uphold the right of states to determine the status of marriage, the reasoning and the language of that opinion will be used to promote same-sex marriage across the country.”

Wasden: Idaho’s laws haven’t changed

Here’s what Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden had to say this morning on the U.S. Supreme Court decisions on same-sex marriage: “There really isn’t a direct impact on Idaho law. It’s still in effect. … so there really isn’t a lot of change there.”

He noted that his office is still analyzing the decisions. “We’re trying to react to what we’ve been able to review and read very rapidly,” Wasden said. But overall, he said, “My job is to defend the Constitution and the statutes of the state, and those haven’t changed.”

Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage rulings don’t alter Idaho’s ban

I am still awaiting word from the experts, but it appears that today’s landmark U.S. Supreme Court decisions on same-sex marriage won’t change anything in Idaho. That’s because the decisions defer to states to regulate marriage, even while striking down the federal Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA. The result is that couples legally married in the 12 states where same-sex marriage is permitted are eligible for federal benefits; a second decision declined to take up an appeal of a California appellate court ruling over that state’s Proposition 8. But Idaho has a sweeping constitutional provision banning not only same-sex marriage, but also civil unions.

In 2006, Idaho voters approved HJR 2, an amendment to the state Constitution, with 63.35 percent of voters in favor and 36.65 percent against. The ballot measure asked, “Shall Article III, of the Constitution of the State of Idaho be amended by the addition of a new Section 28, to provide that a marriage between a man and a woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this state?” Once it passed, this section was added to Idaho’s Constitution:

“Section 28. Marriage. A marriage between a man and a woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this state.”

The official statement of effect of adoption of the ballot measure said this: “If adopted, the proposed amendment would add language to the Constitution of the State of Idaho to provide that a marriage is only between a man and a woman. The language prohibits recognition by the state of Idaho and its political subdivisions of civil unions, domestic partnerships, or any other relationship that attempts to approximate marriage. The language further prohibits the state and its political subdivisions from granting any or all of the legal benefits of marriage to civil unions, domestic partnerships, or any other relationship that attempts to approximate marriage.”

1 marriage in 5 involved same-sex couple

About one Washington state wedding in five between early December and the end of March involved a same-sex couple, state figures show.

The state Department of Health said nearly 2,500 same-sex couples were married in Washington between Dec. 6, when a voter approved law took effect, and March 31. That's about 20 percent of the 11,661 marriages performed and reported to county officials.

More than half of them took place in King County, the state's most populous. Spokane County recorded 504 couples married during that period, with 88 or 17.5 percent of them for same sex couples, the department said. 

Four counties — Asotin, Ferry, Garfield and Wahkiakum — had no same sex marriages on file.

Female couples were almost twice as likely as male couples to get married, comprising some 63 percent of the same-sex marriages during that period. Same sex couples were also more likely to travel to Washington to get married than heterosexual couples, the department said; 14 percent of the same-sex marriages had both couples from out of state, compared to 4 percent of heterosexual couples both being from out of state.

Washington became the seventh state in the nation to legalize same-sex marriage on Nov. 6 when voters approved Referendum 74, a ballot measure asking whether a law passed earlier in the year by the Legislatulre should be upheld. The law took effect one month later when the election results were certified.

For a county-by-county breakdown, click on the document below.


Documents:

Same-Sex Marriage in Washington

Day One: Licenses have been granted and rituals – large, small, formal, simple – are legalizing love that has been. Love for a few years as well as love that has been steadfast and true for decades.

Take a look at one  love story on Washington’s day one of same-sex marriage.

(S-R archives photo)

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.

Mapping the vote: Spokane on same-sex marriage

Referendum 74, which would legalize same-sex marriage in Washington, is slightly ahead statewide, but trails in Spokane County

For the statewide map, click here

For a closer look at the Spokane vote, click on the PDF document below


Documents:

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?”

Big money continues to roll in to campaigns

With just two weeks left for voters to return their general election ballots, large amounts of money are flowing into some Washington campaigns for top offices and measures that propose major changes to state law.

The state Democratic Party reported a $350,000 contribution Monday to its gubernatorial candidate Jay Inslee, who a local poll suggests is tied with Republican Rob McKenna, and campaign disclosure records show is running behind in the money race. . .

A poll of 500 Washington voters conducted by 360 Strategies said McKenna and Inslee are each supported by 46 percent of those surveyed through the weekend. McKenna has raised about $12.1 million and Inslee about $10.6 milllion, although the Democratic former congressman’s totals don’t yet include Monday’s contribution from the state party, or a $93,000 contribution last week.

At this point in the campaign, state law requires candidates and donors to report any contribution of more than $1,000 as a “last-minute contribution” on a special form.  To see the latest update of the PDC last-minute contribution list, click here.

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

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?

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