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08 November 2009 @ 05:47 pm
Washington goes one better than Maine  
I should have blogged this earlier, but I have an almost neurotic compulsion about certainty. Washington's voters have approved a law allowing domestic partnerships for same-sex couples.

The vote was a postal vote, so the count took longer than Maine's did. But it's all over now - the pro-partnership vote cannot be beaten.

The ballot featured the following question -

The legislature passed Engrossed Second Substitute Senate Bill 5688 concerning rights and responsibilities of state-registered domestic partners and voters have filed a sufficient referendum petition on this bill.

This bill would expand the rights, responsibilities, and obligations accorded state-registered same-sex and senior domestic partners to be equivalent to those of married spouses, except that a domestic partnership is not a marriage.

Should this bill be approved/rejected?

There's that not a marriage thing again. Rub it in, why don't you...

But, in comparison to Maine, the vote went in the pro-gay direction early on and stayed there. The current results are -

Approved 855,457 52.56 %
Rejected 772,258 47.44 %

Congratulations Washington!

The breakdown of voting by county makes for interesting reading. Most of the counties actually rejected the bill, but those that approved it typically had the larger populations. This is like the Maine breakdown, where the anti-gay side won primarily on the strength of the rural counties.

The first thing to say is - gosh. If the anti-gay groups were chortling with glee over the Maine result - 'Democracy has spoken! The public doesn't like gays!' - this will sober them. Nobody thought that November would be the end of the fight for either side of the battlefield, but this is extremely encouraging. A public vote has swung in the pro-gay favour on such a huge issue - if it's possible here, it will be possible elsewhere.

And things get better when you consider how Washington voted in 1997. That year an anti-discrimination law was up for the vote. Though it looked absurdly weak, it would have prevented anti-gay discrimination in certain areas in the workplace.

The result of that poll was abysmal. Every single county in Washington voted against it. Twelve years later, however, gays and lesbians are getting domestic rights that would give the Pope a heart attack. And almost every single county reported an increase in pro-gay voting as well - there was only one exception.

So, despite Maine, the pro-gay contingent is alive and kicking. Clearly something is being done right. I can only hope that in future the anti-gay groups get ever more desperate...