Opposition to the gay marriage bill will fight to have a measure put on the ballot in an effort for voters to shoot down the measure. The law could be held up if the opposition collects enough signatures, which would place the measure on a ballot for the election in November. If the opposition is not strong enough, marriages between same-sex couples could begin in the month of June.
Should this bill become a law, Washington would become the seventh state to allow gay marriage in the country. The other states that allow gay marriage are Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, New Hampshire, Iowa and Vermont. The District of Columbia also allows gay marriage. Since 2007, Washington has used domestic partnership laws.
There should be a vote regarding gay marriage in New Jersey within the coming week while Maine is moving closer towards a proposal for gay marriage on its ballot in November. In May, North Carolina will have an amendment on the ballot that would ban gay marriage. The same will occur in November for the state of Minnesota.
Lawmakers in Washington passed the state's Defense of Marriage Act in 1998, which banned gay marriage. The state's Supreme Court upheld the law in 2006. The debate has changed multiple times within the state since 1998. Also in 2006, a gay civil rights measure was passed. This measure had failed for the previous 30 years. This was the first step in the change within the state's Legislature.
The first law allowing domestic partnership followed not long after in 2007. Then, two years later in 2009, voters upheld the expansion of those laws with "everything but marriage.”
A poll conducted by the University of Washington, released in October, shows that more and more people living in the state support gay marriage. Close to 43 percent of those who responded claim that they are in support of same-sex marriage. This number is up from the 30 percent five years ago. Also in the poll, 22 percent of respondents claim that they support giving rights to gay couples without going as far as allowing marriage.
The poll also said that 55 percent of respondents would uphold the law if the measure was placed on the public ballot. On the other side of things, 38 percent of respondents said that they would vote against gay marriage. Some of the most notable backers of the same-sex marriage bill include Nike, Microsoft and Starbucks.