It’s too early to say for sure, but it looks like the first ever win for a pro-gay initiative on a state ballot. And it’s our state, Washington, that will claim it. The voter-approved law, Senate Bill 5688, will change Washington’s definition of spouse–in every law in which it appears–to include registered domestic partners. For that reason, it’s nicknamed the “everything-but-marriage” law.
We don’t know for sure, though, because too many ballots are still pending. Washington became an all-vote-by-mail state this year, and ballots had to be postmarked, not received, by November 3.
Dawn also finds us at status quo for same-sex marriage on the ballot. Maine, where the results are essentially final, saw a “Yes” answer for Question 1, the challenge to their legislature- and governor-approved law granting same-sex couples marriage rights. That means the law allowing people like us to marry will never take effect.
I had a similar personal experience last night to my experience watching election returns in 2008: there was elation (R-71, Obama) and heartbreak (Question 1, Prop 8).
The Seattle P-I has a summary of what will change when the law in Washington goes into effect:
Some rights and responsibilities that would be extended to gay and lesbian families under the latest legislation are:
Workers’ compensation coverage. The right to use sick leave to care for a spouse. Victims’ rights, including the right to receive notifications and benefits allowances. Business succession rights. Legal process rights, such as the ability to sign certain documents, the requirement to join in certain petitions, rights to cause of action, and ability to transfer licenses without charge. The right to wages and benefits when a spouse is injured, and to unpaid wages upon death of spouse. The right to unemployment and disability insurance benefits disability insurance issues Insurance rights, including rights under group policies, policy rights after death of spouse, conversion rights, and continuing coverage rights.
One they don’t mention concerns our family directly. We have been waiting for this legislation to finally take effect so Ami can adopt Frances without the insult and expense of a home visit by a social worker. Originally it was scheduled to take effect shortly after she was born, so it wasn’t much of a wait. And we didn’t really believe that Referendum 71 would wind up on the ballot. So we waited, and waited. We will be thrilled to celebrate Ami’s adoption of Frances as soon as this law takes effect.
In today’s Seattle Times, Danny Westneat wrote:
Gays can’t win at the ballot box.
That has always been the harsh reality. Put the subject of equality for gays and lesbians to a vote of the people — practically any people, in states from deep red to dark blue — and the people have always said: “No. Not here. Not yet.”
Until — it appears — now. Right here.
There’s a week’s worth of ballot-counting remaining in an election everyone is saying is too-close-to-call. But it appears Washington state will be the first in America to approve a gay-equality measure not by court fiat or legislative action, but by the direct will of the people.
Let’s ignore for the moment the outrageous inequity of other people voting on your personal rights. Because no matter how very wrong it is, it’s happened again and again in this country, in state after state. I don’t believe it’s right to vote on this issue, even when we win.
Let’s do a tiny dance of joy in praise of the voters of Washington. Not so big, because our victory is very mixed–and unsure. Maybe a little wiggle in your chair would suffice.
Then let’s personify Maine for a moment, and ask him a few pointed questions:
- What happened to your young voters, who probably support equal rights for all?
- Yes to medical marijuana, but no to same-sex marriage? Yes to late-term abortions, but no to same-sex marriage? I’m confused about you, Maine. Civil liberties get approval, but so does discrimination. I’m not sure how to read that, or whether to invite you to my cocktail party. You’ll probably be a load of laughs, but you won’t call me in the morning.
- You’re not going to convince us not to be homos. So why not impose your traditional values by allowing us fair access to the hetero-normative marriage we are forced to beg you for?
- Do you really think that we’ll still remember you tomorrow as the first to recycle?
- For a state that so relies on tourism, how do you think this will effect your bottom line? Not smart, Maine. The leaves change color in Massachusetts and Vermont, too. Next year, we’ll take our veils, our tuxes, and our fat gay dollar there, instead.
Yes, today I’m angry with Maine.
But mark my words, National Organization for Marriage, Faith and Freedom Network, Yes on 1, the Vatican, and the LDS Church: when we win in Washington, it will be the first victory of many.