Marriage Equality Needs You
by Washington State Senator Ed Murray
June 22, 2012
That’s it. The future of marriage equality in Washington comes down to the four-and-a-half months between now and Election Day. All our work – the years of talking, educating, advocating, and legislating – hinges on what we do this summer and fall to get Referendum 74 approved in November.
Like all of you, I was overjoyed back in February when the legislature passed, and Gov. Gregoire signed, Washington’s historic marriage equality law. For me, it was the culmination of 17 years of hard work in the legislature and in the community.
But we knew then that the fight was far from over. Almost immediately, opponents started gathering signatures to place the law on the fall ballot as Referendum 74. Aided by large conservative religious organizations and paid signature gatherers, that opposition submitted twice the requisite number of signatures earlier this month to force a referendum on the law this November.
It is sad that a minority is trying to divide our state by restricting the ability of Gay and Lesbian couples in loving relationships to marry. But I am confident that Washington voters will come together this November to reject the politics of division by voting to Approve Referendum 74.
We know what we’re up against. We won’t be complacent. We know the forces arrayed to defeat marriage equality in Washington are the same ones that have prevailed every time same-sex marriage has been on the ballot. If history is a guide, they’ll bend and twist the truth about Washington’s new law, trying to deceive voters with confusion and fallacies. And, with at least one big backer – the National Organization for Marriage – saying they’re ready to dump $7 million into the state, marriage opponents will have plenty of resources to try and defeat equality.
That’s why Rep. Jamie Pedersen and I started Washington United for Marriage last fall, long before the marriage equality law had even been heard in committee. Since then, WUM has become a strong, statewide coalition comprising businesses, labor unions, LGBT organizations, faith groups, and thousands of individual Washingtonians – all fired up and ready to win in November.
WUM needs you! If you haven’t filled out a pledge form already, go to the website, washingtonunitedformarriage.org. Or look for the hundreds of Approve R-74 volunteers canvassing the crowd on Pride Weekend in Seattle with their t-shirts and clipboards. Sign a pledge card!
The “arc of justice” is bending our way. Poll after poll – both national and in-state – show increasing support for marriage equality. Nationally a late-May Washington Post/ABC News survey found 53 percent support for legal same-sex marriage, with only 39 percent opposed. Here in Washington, support is looking even stronger: a recent poll showed 54 percent approving to 33 percent opposing – a 21 percent margin.
However, simply having a majority on our side now is not enough to assure victory in November. We know, from recent contests in other states, that our opposition will deliver an onslaught of deceptive advertising and scare tactics. That’s why the Approve R-74 campaign will be working all summer to educate voters on why marriage matters.
All this means, of course, that the Washington United for Marriage/Approve R-74 campaign needs considerable financial resources (a.k.a. MONEY!) as soon as possible. That’s one of the hard lessons from other states. Anti-equality interests were able to set the terms of the debate early, and pro-marriage campaigns never caught up. That’s why your contributions are so important now.
If you can’t afford to contribute much financially, your time and talents are just as welcome. WUM needs volunteers for canvassing, staffing phone banks, writing letters to editors, entering data, and dozens of other important tasks. Visit waunited.org/volunteer and fill out the online form – or, again, find one of the many Approve R-74 canvassers at this weekend’s Pride festivities. They’ll be eager to sign you up!
This weekend, I’ll be celebrating Pride with my partner of 20 years, Michael Shiosaki. Soon after Washington’s voters Approve R-74 in November, Michael and I will celebrate our marriage to one another – as all loving, committed couples should be able to do if they choose. For Michael and me, and you, and our entire community, these next four-and-a-half months are literally about the rest of our lives. That’s why your support – through all the time and money you can generously afford – is so important.
Enjoy Pride! Then join the campaign to Approve R-74. We’ll win in November, and we’ll be attending a lot of weddings next year!
Ed Murray, a Democrat, represents the 43rd Legislative District
(including Seattle’s Capitol Hill, Madison Park, Wallingford,
and University districts) in the Washington State Senate.
This article first appeared in the Seattle Gay News, June 22, 2012
Reprinted with permission.