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On November 6, 2012, Washington became the tenth jurisdiction in the United States (9 states, plus the District of Columbia) to extend the freedom to marry to same-sex couples when a majority of Washington residents voted to APPROVE Referendum 74 at the ballot on Election Day. Read more about the historic vote.

Referendum 74 upheld the freedom to marry, which was passed legislatively by the Washington state legislature, signed into law by Gov. Christine Gregoire on February 13, 2012 and challenged by anti-gay activists with a referendum.

Same-sex couples began applying for marriage licenses in Washington on December 6, 2012, and marriages officially began on December 9.


On July 23, 2007, Washington began offering domestic partnerships to same-sex couples and their families. In 2008, the domestic partnership law was expanded to include a broader set of protections and responsibilities.

Anti-gay opponents tried but failed to repeal the domestic partnership law through a referendum in the November 2009 election.

On February 13, 2012, a freedom to marry bill passed the legislature with strong bipartisan support in each chamber, and the governor signed it into law. The marriage law was scheduled to go into effect on June 7, 2012, but anti-marriage opponents managed to gather the necessary signatures to place repeal of the law on the ballot, so enactment of the law was postponed pending the outcome of the November 2012 vote.

After months of campaigning, Washington United for Marriage, the coalition working to approve Referendum 74, declared victory on November 6, 2012, a historic night where marriage ballot measures also passed in Maine, Maryland, and Minnesota.  


  • Washington United for Marriage is a coalition a coalition of organizations, congregations, unions, and businesses working together to secure civil marriage for loving, committed gay and lesbian couples. Freedom to Marry is proud to be a founding member of Washington United for Marriage. 
  • Equal Rights Washington is Washington's statewide lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights and advocacy organization.  
  • Freedom to Marry is the campaign to win marriage for same-sex couples nationwide.
  • Human Rights Campaign is the United States' largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) equality. 


A May 2012 poll from the Associated Press and Strategies 360 found in a survey of Washington voters that 55% of respondents said they support the freedom to marry in the state. Only 33% said they would reject the law at the ballot.  


According to The Williams Institute's analysis of the 2010 U.S. Census, 19,003 same-sex couples are living in Washington, representing 7.3 same-sex couples per 1,000 households. 

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Moving the Middle on Marriage:  Lessons from Maine and Washington

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Washington Census Snapshot

Demographic and economic information about same-sex couples and same-sex couples raising children in Maine.

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