Joseph Backholm Concedes in Referendum 74 Marriage Battle

Joseph Backholm Concedes in Referendum 74 Marriage Battle

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Joseph Backholm

On Tuesday, landmark progress was made for LGBTQ Americans as voters in Washington State, Maine, Maryland, and Minnesota all took a stand in support of marriage equality.

Preserve Marriage Washington, the marriage equality opposition force in Washington State, is a coalition of community and faith groups and hundreds of thousands of citizens who support marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Joseph Backholm, Chairman of Preserve Marriage Washington, released the following statement today:

“With added results showing that we have not closed the gap, it now appears clear that Referendum 74 will be narrowly approved. We are disappointed in losing a tough election battle on marriage by a narrow margin. But while we are disappointed, we are not defeated.  We are fighting for a cause that is true, and beautiful, and right—the sacred institution of marriage.  It’s a cause worth fighting for, and we will continue to educate citizens and policymakers on the timeless truth that real marriage is the union of one man and one woman.

“We knew this was not going to be an easy fight.  Washington is a deep blue state and one of the most secular states in the country.  Washington has a very high percentage of voters who never attend church, and polling showed that 80 percent of unchurched voters approved of Referendum 74.  On top of that, our opponents had a giant financial advantage, outspending us by $10 million, so the odds became even more difficult.  Plus, we were fighting Washington’s political establishment and news media—with The Seattle Times taking the unprecedented step of not just endorsing the referendum, but of actively campaigning for its approval.  Nevertheless, we ran a strong campaign that we can be proud of—a campaign based on honesty and integrity.

“Our opponents and some in the media will try to portray this election as a turning point, but it’s not a turning point to win on your home turf.  The election results reflect the political and funding advantages our opponents enjoyed in this very liberal and secular state.  The results show only that in a deep blue state, with a huge financial advantage, gay marriage activists can win—barely.  Further, the results indicate that a significant percentage of Washington voters are troubled by redefining marriage.

Washingtonians know that women and men are not interchangeable—that children need both a mother and a father—and this election does not represent a sea change in their understanding of that reality.

We are grateful for the support of tens of thousands of volunteers who stood for the timeless truth that real marriage is between a man and a woman.”

Washington United for Marriage (WUM) campaign manager Zach Silk issued the following statement in response to the concession by opponents that R74 will be approved and the state’s bipartisan marriage law protected:

“This is an historic day for Washington, an historic day for our country and, most of all, for families across the state who have dreamed of this day. From the beginning, this campaign told the stories of loving couples and their families who simply want to get married. All of us, from our volunteers, to our staff to the nearly 20,000 donors who invested in the freedom to marry, are enormously grateful to the voters of Washington State.  Yes, we made history, but more importantly, we helped protect and defend thousands of families across the state.

“We have always understood that there are good people on the other side of this issue.  Yet, we remain confident that once people see how much marriage matters to families, they will realize that the love and commitment that marriage embodies only strengthens families, neighborhoods and communities.”

Equal Rights Washington is working with several other LGBTQ and allied organizations to provide information, answer questions, and help coordinate the very exciting steps that will take place in the days ahead as our community prepares for the first legal marriages of same-sex couples in Washington.

  • Legal Voice has put together some of the most frequently asked questions and answers. The Questions and Answers: Marriage for Same-Sex Couples in Washington document can be found on their website.
  • If you would like to support LGBTQ-friendly businesses as you plan a wedding, seek legal or financial advice, or are in the market for wedding gifts, the Greater Seattle Business Association has compiled a resource list that you can find on their website.

A number of community groups, including Equal Rights Washington and other members of the Washington United for Marriage coalition, will be working with committed same-sex couples across the state to help those who want to be part of the first day marriage licenses that will be issued on December 6 and, after the mandatory three-day waiting period, the first marriages on December 9.

Source: Equal Rights Washington & Washington United for Marriage

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