Ballot TitleThough it's a drag this fight must be fought, this does represent something of a win for marriage equality side. The Republican State Attorney General Rob McKenna had attempted to slip some anti-equality talking points into the ballot langauge.
The legislature passed Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill 6239 concerning marriage for same-sex couples, modified domestic-partnership law, and religious freedom, and voters have filed a sufficient referendum petition on this bill. [10 words]
This bill 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. [30 words]
Ballot Measure Summary
This bill allows same-sex couples to marry, applies marriage laws without regard to gender, and specifies that laws using gender-specific terms like husband and wife include same-sex spouses. After 2014, existing domestic partnerships are converted to marriages, except for seniors. It preserves the right of clergy or religious organizations to refuse to perform or recognize any marriage or accommodate wedding ceremonies. The bill does not affect licensing of religious organizations providing adoption, foster-care, or child-placement. [75 words]
This was State Attorney McKenna's proposed language:
Ballot Measure SummaryThe use of the phrase "redefine marriage" is lifted directly from National Organization for Marriage's list of most effective talking points for undermining marriage equality support:
The bill would redefine marriage to allow same-sex couples to marry, apply marriage eligibility requirements without regard to gender, and specify that laws using gender-specific terms like “husband” and “wife” include same-sex spouses. Clergy could refuse to solemnize or recognize any marriages. Religious organizations and religiously affiliated educational institutions could refuse to accommodate weddings. The measure would not affect licensing of religious organizations providing adoption, foster-care, or child-placement. Domestic partnerships for seniors would be preserved.
I. THE MOST EFFECTIVE SINGLE SENTENCE:It was unseemly for McKenna to try use his office to rig the process in such a manner. It didn't escape the notice of local politicos who publicly shamed the gubernatorial aspirant for putting his personal views before his professional responsibilities, saying "he's smart enough to know better."
Extensive and repeated polling agrees that the single most effective message is:
"Gays and Lesbians have a right to live as they choose, they don’t have the right to redefine marriage for all of us."
The Attorney General's language was challenged in court and today, fortunately the judge saw through McKenna's underhanded trick and agreed with Washington United for Marriage that the offensive language should be struck from the petition.
There has been a "decline to sign" campaign kicked off, however the bar for reaching a ballot referendum is not particularly high in Washington, and the measure is expected to make it to the ballot.
Democrats in Washington state will very likely be fighting to defend their historic achievement and preserve Governor Gregoire's departing legacy. The coalition of Washington United for Marriage is asking folks to pledge their yes vote here.