Watching Washington's Same-Sex Partnerships Vote

The legal machinations continue, but increasingly it sounds as though the state of Washington will vote this November on whether to overturn the "everything ...
by | September 9, 2009

The legal machinations continue, but increasingly it sounds as though the state of Washington will vote this November on whether to overturn the "everything but marriage" gay benefits law that the legislature and governor approved earlier this year.

Washington, like Maine, allows voters to challenge newly approved laws on the ballot before they go into effect. So, unless a new legal challenge succeeds, Washington, like Maine, will be voting on gay rights this fall. The difference between the two states is that Washington, unlike Maine, is still using the term "domestic partnerships" instead of "marriages" for same-sex couples.

Should they occur, the simultaneous votes in Washington and Maine will provide a rough test of just how much the word "marriage" matters. Washington and Maine are politically similar states. President Obama won Washington with 57.34% of the vote and Maine with 57.71% of the vote. By avoiding "marriages," will Washington's law win broader support?

Besides that question, I'll also be watching the interplay of the ballot measure and local races in Washington. Seattle has a hotly contested mayoral race and King County (where Seattle is located) has a competitive race for County Executive. As a result, the state's more liberal voters should vote in large numbers this fall, which may help sustain the gay rights law.

Josh Goodman
Josh Goodman  |  Former Staff Writer
mailbox@governing.com

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