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Preliminary numbers indicate same-sex marriage bill passed
It's the two words Robert Herrmann used to describe how he felt when Referendum 74 was passed by voters.
“I am ecstatic and elated and befuddled,” he said. “I am still in shock and awe. I feel gobsmacked. There was a huge win for marriage equality across the country.”
Governor Christine Gregoire signed the marriage bill last February. It was set to take effect on June 7, but opponents submitted enough signatures to suspend the bill and require a state-wide vote.
The results are close: 52 percent of Washington voters approved the measure while 48 percent rejected it. Ballots are still being counted, but many are predicting Referendum 74 is a go.
It will allow gay couples to marry and preserves domestic partnerships for seniors and the right of religious organizations to refuse to perform or recognize any marriage ceremony. The law will start on Dec. 6.
In San Juan County, the measure was overwhelmingly approved: 70 percent to 30 percent.
Herrmann, who lives on Lopez, has been with his partner Ron Hall for 16 years. They have already booked a venue for a July wedding on the island.
“This is affirming. I feel like a full citizen now,” Herrmann said. “Straight people don't have the experience of being called names and ridiculed.”
The couple held a commitment ceremony and became domestic partners on their 11th anniversary. For those who are already registered as domestic partners, they automatically become married 18 months after the law goes into effect.
Washington joins these states in legalizing same-sex marriage: Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and Vermont.
“This isn't going to be taught in schools, this isn't going to be shoved down people's throats,” Herrmann said. “For so many, this is just a non-issue.”