Posted October 5, 2012 by Cooper Point Journal in News

Referendum 74: The Rundown

In February of last year, the Washington State Legislator passed Senate Bill 6239, legalizing same-sex marriage. Shortly after the bill was passed, opponents of the bill gathered enough signatures to suspend the bill and demand a statewide vote on the issue. That’s where Referendum 74 comes into play.
According to the Washington Secretary of State website, “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.”
As of 2009, Washington has had a Domestic Partnership law (Referendum 71) which is also know as the “everything but marriage” law because it gives same-sex couples the same rights as a married couple, just not the status.
Evergreen student and activist Claire Thomas commented on the importance of this referendum, saying, “it’s about getting rid of this ‘separate but equal’ standard we have for GLBTQ (gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans*, and queer) people in this state and I think that’s applicable to everyone…obtaining equality is an issue that should matter to you no matter how you feel about the rest of voting.”
This issue is particularly important to Thomas, who has been diligently volunteering with five other Evergreen students to spread the word about this referendum, because her parents are gay and have been together for more than 30 years. She added, “I want them to be able to call each other wife instead of partner, it sounds like business partner…[A]nd I’d like to be able to marry whomever I love when I grow up.”
The passing of referendum 74 would give marriage status – and all the rights that come with it – to all same-sex couples currently in Domestic Partnerships–except seniors–and allow other same-sex couples to legally marry. No other states with same-sex marriage laws have passed a bill through a statewide vote.
By Sabra Chandiwalla