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Washington Marriage Opponents File Signatures

Jim Burroway

June 6th, 2012

Marriage equality opponents in Washington filed more than 200,000 signatures today for a referendum to place the state’s same-sex marriage law up for a vote. The group, Preserve Marriage Washington, submitted the signatures just one day before the law granting full marriage to same-sex couples, which was signed into law in February, was due to take effect. By filing these signatures, that puts the law on hold while State officials review the filing to determine whether Referendum 74 will qualify for the ballot.

If Referendum 74 does qualify, it will set up an unusual dynamic in the upcoming election. For all thirty-two previous ballot campaigns on marriage equality, a “no” vote was the vote to cast to prevent permanent bans on same-sex marriage to be written into state constitutions. But for Referendum 74, a “yes” vote is the vote for marriage equality. That is already starting to confuse some people:

My neighbor walked into the coffee shop this morning—a working mom, has a wonderful kid, thriving career, acres of smarts, and enthusiastic support for gay marriage—and proudly informed me she was prepared to reject Referendum 74. Which seems like it makes sense. Anti-gay Preserve Marriage Washington is trying to place R-74 on the ballot to repeal Washington State’s marriage law, so naturally a person like my neighbor thinks that she wants to reject whatever they’re doing. But she doesn’t. She wants to approve R-74.

I’m sure that will trip us up once or twice before this thing is over.

Comments

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Stefan
June 7th, 2012 | LINK

I still think it’ll be good for our side. The question is very straightforward; approve or reject same sex marriage.

I’m interning for Minnesotans United for All Families and we constantly have to explain the language to people. Cases like the woman listed above in Washington I’m sure are few and far between.

Hyhybt
June 7th, 2012 | LINK

Is the other potential ballot item still in play? The one that’s on the same issue, but with the positions reversed, so you have to vote “no” on one and “yes” on the other? Or did they either give up or fail on that one?

Nathaniel
June 7th, 2012 | LINK

I think it will be easier to keep up with in the long run. In all cases, people were voting on Marriage equality, but ‘no’ was for equality and ‘yes’ was against. This time, ‘yes’ is for and ‘no’ is against. I think both sides will have an easy time spelling that out. Being on the ‘yes’ side may even help us, if people vote for something positive.

gar
June 7th, 2012 | LINK

I’m wondering what effect, if any, the 9th cir’s decision on Prop 8 will have on WA, since WA is in 9th cir. territory. I suppose if the 9th Cir. decision only applies to CA, it may at least help to get rid of WA’s anti-equality law, should it pass. It just means it will take longer for people to get married.

Any legal minds with any thoughts on this?

Secret Advocate
June 7th, 2012 | LINK

I remember a similar thing happening with the referendum on the domestic partnership law in 2009. Our side was greatly concerned about so-called “wrong-way voting” and took great pains in its campaign to tell people what yes and no really meant.

I suppose that the problem will be lessened when the sides begin running their commercials, and then when people actually go into the voting booth, where the specific question is laid out in front of them.

Dave Fleischer’s massive report about the Proposition 8 campaign and results found that the Yes-on-8 side (i.e., the anti-gay marriage side) actually suffered a net loss of about 400,000 votes due to “wrong-way voting.” There were people who thought that, to say “no” to gay marriage, they had to vote “no” on Proposition 8. That, of course, was wrong.

Proposition 8, as we know, passed anyway, but Mr. Fleischer cautioned that our side did not really lose by “only” a margin of 52.2% to 47.8%. If all of the voters had truly voted in accordance with their intentions, then Proposition 8 would have passed by a margin of more like 54% to 46%. That warning was probably taken into account by LGBT rights organizations in their consideration of whather the put the issue on the ballot again.

In the same vein, wrong-way “thinking” may have been one of the reasons why Proposition 8 had trailed so greatly in the polls until mid-September of 2008.

Timothy Kincaid
June 7th, 2012 | LINK

Good point, SA. The Washington voters are already familiar with “vote yes for gay rights” as that was the way it worked for Ref 71 as well.

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