By Lucas Grindley
Originally published on Advocate.com June 13 2012 11:04 AM ET
The fight over marriage equality in Washington is moving to the ballot.
The Secretary of State’s office announced today that opponents of a marriage equality law had turned in 247,331 signatures, many more than the 120,577 they needed to get a repeal on the ballot.
The state also found a significant number of “questionable petition sheets” that are being forwarded to police. But there weren’t enough to scuttle the entire push.
So when voters go to the polls in November, marriage equality will be on the ballot in one form or another in four states — Washington, Maryland, Minnesota, and Maine.
In Maryland, opponents also recently qualified to put the state’s newly passed marriage equality law up to a majority vote. Marriage equality opponents needed to gather more than 55,000 signatures and also turned in more than needed.
LGBT activists had already begun gearing up for a fight. Marylanders for Marriage Equality, the coalition leading the campaign, announced a long list of moves it has made to stop the repeal, including new campaign offices hiring 12 field staffers. A recent poll from Public Policy Polling found that 57% of voters would uphold the law.
In Minnesota, PPP found a 10-point swing toward the pro-marriage side in four months, with independents driving fresh support. Now 49% of voters are against amending the Minnesota constitution to ban same-sex marriage.
In Maine, voters will have to decide whether to reverse a previous decision made at the ballot box in 2009, when voters scrapped the state's marriage equality law. Polls there also show marriage equality ahead early on.
One reason for activists to be hopeful in Washington is it’s one of the few states ever to pass a measure at the ballot box that affirmed same-sex relationships. In 2009 voters passed Referendum 71, which kept in place the state's “everything but marriage” version of domestic partnerships. A recent poll in Washington by Strategies 360 found that 54% of voters say same-sex couples should be able to legally marry.
The new measure will be called Referendum 74 and voters can either “approve” or “reject” the new marriage equality law.