"Everything but marriage" passes voters in Washington

With 72 percent of the votes counted Thursday, support for Referendum 71 is leading 52 to 48 percent--a margin of 60,000 votes.
Supporters of Referendum 71 Vanessa Carr, right, and Pete-e Petersen cheer with others at an Election Night party , Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2009, in Seattle.  (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Supporters of Referendum 71 Vanessa Carr, right, and Pete-e Petersen cheer with others at an election night party , Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2009, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Washington is the first state to have its voters approve a gay equality measure at the ballot box.

With 72 percent of the votes counted Thursday, support for Referendum 71 is leading 52 to 48 percent–a margin of 60,000 votes.

“Our state made history today,” said Anne Levinson, chairwoman of Washington Families Standing Together. “This is a day for which we can all look back with pride.”

Referendum 71 expands the state’s existing domestic partnership registry to include rights limited to only married couples before.

Back in May, Gov. Chris Gregoire signed a bill expanding domestic partnership rights, and would’ve taken effect in late July but enough signatures were gathered by conservative groups to hold the law and let voters decide whether it be passed or not. Now that the bill is passed, the law will take effect Dec. 3.

More than 12,000 couples are registered as domestic partners, most of which are gay. The state also allows heterosexual couples over the age of 62 to register as domestic partnerships so they don’t lose certain pensions or social security benefits.

To read more about this story, visit The Associated Press.

– Simon Husted

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