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Same-sex marriage backers declare victory; video tells couple's story

"I just phoned our son up in Bellingham and said, get ready for the wedding."

Washington United for Marriage has declared victory in the same-sex marriage referendum. Maine and Maryland became the first states to approve same-sex marriage by popular vote last night.

“This is a clear win,” the group's campaign manager Zach Silk said in a press release. “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.”

So far, official “Yes” votes have a slight advantage of 52 to 48 percent. Counties were expected to post additional vote results Wednesday afternoon.

However the group said in the press release:

With 60 percent of the vote counted, R74 already has the support of 65 percent 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 percent spread for R74.

Video: KPLU videographer David Kellogg captured the hopes and tensions of election night as one same-sex couple waited for elections results:

A packed ballroom of same-sex marriage supporters cheered as results came in showing Referendum 74 with a lead.

With a healthy margin in King County the measure’s chance of passage is considered high. The campaign relied on outreach to a broad base of supporters from the faith community, including protestants, Catholics and Jews.  That work was led by the Reverend Deborah Peevey.

“There’s never been a bigger faith coalition built, and it’s because people of faith in Washington State have stood on the right side of history.”
Credit Gary Davis / KPLU
Supporters of same-sex marriage pose at the Democrat’s party at the Westin Hotel in Seattle.

“We made history in so many ways,” Silk said in the release. “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.”

In the ballroom, Dan Coles stood with his partner Steve Lelievre, both of them beaming, holding a sign that read: Dan and Steve, 27 years.  

“And we are very hopeful R 74 will pass and we can get married. And I just phoned our son up in Bellingham and said, get ready for the wedding.”

The referendum asked voters to approve or reject the state's new law legalizing same-sex marriage. That law was passed by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Chris Gregoire earlier this year, but it's been on hold pending the election's outcome.

The bill in question is Senate Bill 6239. It “would allow same-sex couples to marry, preserve domestic partnerships only for seniors and preserve the right of clergy or religious organizations to refuse to perform, recognize or accommodate any marriage ceremony,” according to the state voters guide.

Because Washington requires a three-day waiting period and Dec. 6 would be the first day people would be allowed to apply for a marriage license, couples will have to wait until Dec. 9 to hold marriage ceremonies.  

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