Opponents of Washington's new law [SB 6239, PDF] legalizing same-sex marriage [JURIST backgrounder] conceded defeat Thursday in their efforts for a referendum veto. Referendum 74 [text] gave Washington voters the choice to accept or reject the state same-sex marriage legislation, which was signed [JURIST report] into law by Governor Christine Gregoire [official website] in February. While the referendum was too close to call [Seattle Times report] for most of the week, the measure to legalize same-sex marriage finally passed with approximately 52.55 percent [materials] of the statewide vote. With Maine and Maryland, approval of the legislation now makes Washington the third state this week [JURIST report] to legalize same-sex marriage, and the ninth state overall, including New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire and the District of Columbia [JURIST reports].
In June Preserve Marriage Washington [advocacy website] presented more than 200,000 referendum signatures to put Referendum 74 on the ballot, submitting the signatures and thus suspending the legislation one day before [JURIST reports] the law was scheduled to take effect. Gregoire signed the legislation less than a week after the state House of Representatives approved the bill, subsequent to the Senate having passed [JURIST reports] it two weeks before that. Gregoire has been a consistent advocate for gay rights during her tenure as governor. In April 2011 she signed a bill [JURIST report] that recognized as legal same-sex marriage licenses from other states. In March 2007 Gregoire signed legislation [JURIST report] that recognized domestic partnership status for same-sex couples.