Washington voters backed a law that grants marriage rights to same-sex couples, joining Maryland, Maine and six other states where the practice is legal.
The Washington measure asked whether to keep or reject a law that passed earlier this year and was placed on hold pending the outcome of the Nov. 6 election. It passed, 52 percent to 48 percent, according to the Associated Press.
“Washington voters sent a resounding message that nothing less than marriage is full equality for gay and lesbian couples,” Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, a Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group, said in a statement. “This victory rounds out a landslide sweep of all four marriage ballot measures.”
Washington was one of four states where voters dealt with same-sex marriage issues. In Maine, an initiative backing such unions became the first to pass that wasn’t tied to previous legislation. The vote was 53 percent to 47 percent, an AP tally shows. Maryland residents also affirmed a law legalizing the practice, 52 percent to 48 percent. A Minnesota proposal to amend the state constitution and define marriage as between a man and a woman failed, 51 percent to 47 percent.
“Americans remain strongly in favor of marriage as the union of one man and one woman,” Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage, a Washington, D.C.-based group that opposes same-sex marriage, said in a statement. “The election results reflect the political and funding advantages our opponents enjoyed in these very liberal states.”
Advocates for gay marriage in Washington state raised almost $14.1 million to campaign for retaining the law, compared with about $2.7 million collected by opponents, state records show. Jeff Bezos, the Amazon.com Inc. founder and chief executive officer, put $2.5 million into the fight to keep the law, and was joined by Microsoft Corp. Chairman and co-founder Bill Gates, who gave $350,000, and CEO Steve Ballmer, $100,000.
Governor Christine Gregoire, who signed the bill earlier this year, is a Democrat, and members of that party also control the state Legislature.
“Washington has made history and I couldn’t be prouder,” Gregoire said in a statement. “Voters stood up for what is right and what is just and said that all Washington families are equal under the law.”