September 19, 2012
Washington United for Marriage reported Monday that four of Washington state’s leading newspapers have endorsed Referendum 74, the ballot initiative that will go before voters this November asking them uphold the state’s recently-passed marriage equality law. The four newspapers that wrote editorials in favor of the initiative this weekend are The Seattle Times, The Columbian, which covers greater Vancouver, Spokane’s Spokesman Review and The News Tribune, which serves Pierce County. Last Wednesday, the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin endorsed Referendum 74, and The Bellingham Herald published an editorial in favor this Monday.
In its strongly-worded editorial in favor of Referendum 74, The Seattle Times wrote, “The word lost in the formalities of lawmaking was “love.” One central lesson is that love is patient. Legislators and community leaders built a path toward their goal. In 2009, when the domestic-partnership law was referred to voters, it was strongly approved…. Once again the state must act together. Mark the ballot to Approve R-74. Love does not fail.”
Kate Riley, the paper’s editorial page editor, wrote a powerful piece detailing the leadership of the Blethen family, which has run The Seattle Times for more than 100 years, including the importance of LGBT issues to the younger members of the family:
“[T]he change seems to be strongest among younger people who are inspiring their elders’ changes of heart.
That was what happened in 2000, when The Seattle Times editorial board reversed its strong opposition to civil unions, thanks to the fifth generation of the Blethen family, which has run the paper for 116 years. The company puts young family members through their training paces. One such exercise, intended to expose them to public-policy debate, caused the Times to pivot.
Seven cousins, then ranging in age from 21 to 30, were assigned to teams, for and against civil unions. Though they argued vigorously for the respective viewpoints, it became clear they were all in agreement: The time for civil unions had come.”
In addition, The Seattle Times announced a social media campaign on Monday called “I do,” offering readers a pro-Referendum 74 sign to print out and photograph themselves holding for an online gallery of supporters. Referendum 74 looks to be in a good position in Washington, with an Ellway poll conducted from Sept. 8-12 showing 52 percent of respondents in favor of the law, with 40 percent opposed and eight percent undecided. That’s an encouraging increase since the firm’s last poll in July, which showed the initiative leading 49-39 percent.
Meanwhile, in Australia, a federal marriage bill failed in the House of Representatives by a vote of 98-42. All Coalition members, led by Labor Prime Minister Julia Gillard, who opposes marriage equality, voted against the bill. The Australian Senate will likely vote down the bill as well in the next few days. LGBT activists in the country will now focus their efforts on passing marriage equality at the state level. A marriage bill passed the lower house in Tasmania, and now must pass the state’s 15-seat Legislative Council. Marriage equality efforts are also underway in South Australia, New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory.
UPDATE (9/20): The marriage bill has failed in the Australian Senate as well, by a 41-26 vote.