Precedent against same-sex marriage.
Voters have repeatedly opposed gay marriage in other states, but Washington could be a different story.
When it comes to marriage, voters in this country aren’t all that kind to same-sex couples.
Since 1998, ballot measures were passed banning or erasing the right of gay and lesbian couples to legally wed in 31 states.
This year, voters in five states are likely to consider the subject including in Washington where a measure to repeal the state’s same-sex marriage law is expected to make the November ballot.
Backers of Washington’s law know they’re battling history as they try to make this the first state where gay marriage is embraced by the electorate.
“There is certainly a historical precedence against us,” said Zach Silk, campaign manager for Washington United for Marriage. “But there’s been a dramatic shift in how the electorate nationally and in Washington views marriage equality. We’re intending to ride that new wave and make new history.”
Not so say opponents.
“You asked if Washington will be the first to buck the trend. Our answer to that is clearly no,” said Christopher Plante, deputy campaign manager for Preserve Marriage Washington, which is gathering signatures for Referendum 74. “Every time people have had a chance to vote on marriage, they’ve stood for defining it as between a man and a woman.”
Veteran pollster Stuart Elway of Seattle said the tolerance of Washingtonians will get tested by this question.
“Attitudes (toward same-sex marriage) are changing,” he said. “The bright line seems to be the word marriage. People will support civil unions and all the rights up to when you call it marriage. For whatever reason that term tilts the scale the other way. That’ll be the crux of it.”