Washington United for Marriage, the campaign to approve Referendum 74 in favor of marriage equality in Washington, is declaring victory. This makes the equality side four for four in ballot initiatives, as Maryland, Maine, and Minnesota have already been called. The campaign says that 60% of the vote has been counted in the vote-by-mail state, and it ran the numbers, and the result is a “clear win” for equality.
As of now, only the campaign has announced victory – there has not been a final call made as of this writing. But with such a steep climb for the anti-equality side and a shrinking number of votes, it seems unlikely it would change.
After crunching numbers throughout the night, Washington United for Marriage (WUM), the broad coalition which built an historic statewide campaign, from a record-setting donor base to an unprecedented GOTV effort, all to defend the freedom to marry, today announced that Referendum 74 will be approved by voters.
“This is a clear win,” said WUM campaign manager Zach Silk. “We have run the numbers every which way, and we can now confidently say that we have won. This is an historic day for Washington, an historic day for our country and, most of all, for families across the state who have dreamed of this day and the wedding celebrations to come.”
With 60 percent of the vote counted, R74 already has the support of 65% of King County and is performing well in key Eastern Washington counties. Simply put, it’s now impossible for opponents to overcome the 52-48% spread for R74.
WUM built on a broad legislative effort that led to passage of the bipartisan marriage law in February. Nonetheless, essentially starting from scratch in June, the campaign built a $12.3 war chest with over 27,000 donors, 80% of whom hailed from the Evergreen State. The most common donation? Twenty-five-dollars, given over and over again.
Ten-thousand, three-hour volunteer shifts for a total of 30,000 hours in direct voter outreach. Just in the last week, 100,000 doors were knocked and nearly 200,000 phone calls were logged on Monday and Tuesday.
“We made history in so many ways,” said Silk. “Our volunteers were engaged, fired up and delivered. There has never been a ballot campaign in Washington that had this kind of breath and depth, from field to fundraising. We have much to celebrate and much to be proud of. With so much at stake, we challenged ourselves to do big things, and it made all the difference.”
Updated as of 6:00 pm Eastern to reflect Maine endorsement and 8:05 Eastern to reflect Maryland endorsement
The Obama campaign made a flurry of announcements today pertaining to the four marriage equality ballot measures that will appear on the November ballot, formally endorsing Referendum 74 in Washington, Question 1 in Maine and Question 6 in Maryland, all of which would grant equal marriage rights to same-sex couples. The campaign had already spoken out in April against Minnesota’s Marriage Amendment, which would amend the state’s constitution to forbid marriage equality.
In Washington, the Seattle Post-Intelligencerreported the following statement today from Paul Bell, the Washington Press Secretary for Obama for America:
“While the president does not weigh in on every single ballot measure in every state, the president believes in treating everyone fairly and equally, with dignity and respect. Washington’s same-sex marriage law would treat all Washington couples equally, and that is why the President supports a vote to approve Referendum 74.”
That statement matched one noted in the Portland Press Heraldand made by Michael Czin, OFA’s Northeast regional press secretary, which began with the same language and then went on to read, “The president believes same-sex couples should be treated equally and supports Question 1.” Tonight, via email, Maryland’s marriage equality campaign also announced the president’s endorsement with the following quote from Obama campaign spokesman Frank Benenati: “Maryland’s same-sex marriage law would treat all Maryland couples equally, and that is why the president supports Question 6.”
In April, Metro Weekly covered the following statement made by the campaign regarding the Minnesota Marriage Amendment by OFA Minnesota Communications Director Kristin Sosanie:
“[T]he Minnesota ballot initiative … would single out and discriminate against committed gay and lesbian couples — and that’s why the President does not support it.”
President Obama has weighed in before against efforts to ban marriage equality, most recently in North Carolina against Amendment 1. And earlier this year, of course, he announced his personal support for the right of same-sex couples to marry. But today’s announcements marks the first time he has announced support for an initiative to approve marriage equality.
Washington United for Marriage’s campaign manager, Zach Silk, issued the following statement today regarding the president’s endorsement:
“President Obama support for marriage reflects what’s happening in WA and across the country. As more people, and more voters, realize that only marriage fully protects and supports families, they move towards supporting marriage for same-sex couples and approving Referendum 74. “We’re now in the home stretch, mobilizing thousands of volunteers with the largest ground game in Washington ballot history. We feel momentum is on our side, and having the President weigh in on approving Referendum 74 puts an extra gust of wind in our sails.”
These announcements by the Obama campaign demonstrate the President’s confidence that marriage equality is a winning issue for him and for Democrats, even in a close presidential race. That alone is a sign of great progress and a mark of just how significantly the politics surrounding marriage equality has shifted.
What you can do to pass marriage equality in Washington:
- As we reported, the anti-gay campaign in Washington state is out with a new misleading ad, relying on two stories that have been previously debunked, to convince viewers that if the marriage equality law passes they will lose their religious liberties.
In Washington, Bill and Melinda Gates announced that they were donating an incredible $500,000 to Washington United for Marriage, the group responsible for the campaign to approve Referendum 74. That money comes on top of another $100,000 gift that the Gates couple gave to the campaign earlier this year. Washington United has raised almost $11 million for its campaign, compared to around $2 million for the anti-marriage equality group Preserve Marriage Washington. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg also announced this week that he would donate $500,000 to marriage equality efforts, splitting the money between the campaigns in Washington, Maine and Minnesota. (He contributed $250,000 earlier this year to Maryland’s effort.)
A University of Washington poll last week found 54 percent of likely voters in Washington support Referendum 74, with 38 percent opposed and 6 percent undecided. Interestingly, the poll also included a third prediction, based on the respondents’ answers to questions about whether they had lied on the survey or if its questions made them uncomfortable, in order to gauge whether the poll’s numbers were over-representing support. That weighted prediction found a closer split, with 53 percent support and 47 percent opposition. In 2009, when Washington voted on a domestic partnership law, polling showed much greater support for the measure than the eventual margin by which it passed.
- The marriage equality campaign in Washington state is out with a new ad highlighting the fact that civil unions or domestic partnerships don’t provide the safety and stability of a marriage. The ad is here:
The ad says:
Angie: Cynthia and I thought our domestic partnership would guarantee that we would be there for one another.
Cynthia: If God forbid one of us was seriously ill.
Angie: And then our worst nightmare happened. I was in surgery and there were complications.
Cynthia: The nurse refused to tell me what was happening and how serious things had gotten.
Angie: Just because we weren’t married.
Cynthia: Only marriage guarantees that all couples can be there for each other when it really matters.
What you can do to pass marriage equality in Washington:
Unsurprisingly, the anti-gay campaign in Washington state, in its effort to keep Washingtonians from marrying, is out with another misleading ad. Washington United for Marriage has a fact check out. The ads refer to two stories that have been debunked before – one story has even been used in an anti-gay ad in Maine before. Via press release, the campaign to pass marriage equality says:
“Neither of these stories are new,” said WUM campaign manager Zach Silk. “They’ve been used repeatedly here in videos, mailers and Sunday bulletins and putting them up on TV does not make them true. In fact, the Vermont inn story was used in an ad in Maine where there is also a referendum on marriage equality, and the state’s newspapers called it out as false.
“Our opponents are desperate. And so they’re closing out with their old playbook of distortions and lies to scare voters. We’ll put our trust in Washington voters who can see through these cynical political tactics,” said Silk.
In both instances, the ad claims, people faced consequences for suggesting that same-sex marriage is against their religion. As the facts show, both stories are misleading.
With a few weeks to go before the election, we can expect to see more untrue ads like this. The anti-gay campaign will undoubtedly try to scare voters into believing that legal marriage will somehow interfere with their religious liberties or hurt their children.
What you can do to pass marriage equality in Washington:
This week, our friends at Washington United for Marriage launched the “Donate a Day for Marriage” drive to reach 1 million Washingtonians. There are only 18 days until the election, and we still have 22 Courage members in Oregon and California who want to help get out the vote in Washington, but need a helping hand with gas and a rental car to get their GOTV carpool on the road. So we’re pitching in with a special offer!
You’ll help our members pound the pavement in Seattle, win marriage equality on the Left Coast, and you’ll have a great new bag for the grocery store or wherever your errands take you. Let’s leave no voter — or Courage member — behind.
- The anti-gay marriage campaign in Washington has been making claims about R74′s effects on business. Washington United for Marriage has issued a press release:
For example, according to the Williams Institute, at the USC School of Law, about 9,500 same-sex couples would marry within the first three years of the law, creating an $88 million boost to the state and local economy, with a $57 million boost the first year alone. In addition, the Institute concludes that those marriages would add $8 million in tax revenue to state and local coffers, with an additional $5 million in the first year. See the full study here.
“To assert that just one social indicator illustrates the fate of a States’ economic strength or weakness is to oversimplify all that should be taken into account to paint a clear picture of a region’s vitality,” said George Allen Senior Vice President for Government Relations for the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce. “The Chamber regularly reaches out to employers and as such knows full well that fostering an open, inclusive and inviting workforce is one of the pillars to job creation and economic vibrancy.”
Ironically, today’s latest press claim from opponents comes as the Wall Street Journal published a piece on its MarketWatch entitled, “Gay Marriage is a Shot of Adrenaline for the U.S. Economy.” For example, the columnist notes, “…why not try something that brings families together and doesn’t cost the tax payer a dime. In fact, it saves taxpayers money, as it is much cheaper for the IRS to process joint income tax statements than it is to process them individually…More jobs, more tax revenue, less money wasted on the IRS seems like a good deal to me.” See the full article here.
“This is just gobbledygook,” said Zach Silk, WUM’s campaign manager about opponents’claims that states without the freedom to marry fare better economically. “If this were all about static economic charts, then the leading business people and corporate leaders throughout the state would not be standing behind our effort to defend the state’s marriage law and approve Referendum 74. With no one standing with them, I guess the next best thing is to throw some malarkey up against the wall and hope it sticks.”
- The same tactics from previous ballot initiative fights used by the National Organization for Marriage and other groups have been used again in the Washington campaign. The latest is that the anti-gay campaign is alleging that anti-gay petition signers are subjected to harassment. Evidence is hard to find for these claims, and Washington United for Marriage has issued a fact check.
- Many corporations, including state-based businesses like Starbucks and Microsoft have endorsed marriage equality in Washington.
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