HRC Blog

385 Days to Make History in Washington State

Back in November 2011, a handful of us sat around a dinner table thinking about the formation of coalition. What would we call it? What would it look like? What we came up with was Washington United for Marriage.

Under the leadership of Governor Chris Gregoire, newly elected Senate Majority Leader Ed Murray, and Representative Jamie Pedersen, Washington state made history by passing a law granting same-sex couples the right to marry. It wasn’t the easiest lift and our coalition, made up of civil rights organizations, labor unions, LGBT organizations and many others, worked with the state legislature, talking to supporters, helping them make their voices heard and get the legislation passed.

Fast forward to June: Our opponents collected over 250,000 signatures to place marriage equality before the voters of Washington State. This is when the hard work and FUN began.

Our team grew to one of the largest campaigns Washington state has ever seen. We called voters, knocked on doors, drove parade floats and raised money, including the single largest donation ever to a pro-equality campaign: a 2.5 million dollar gift from Jeff and McKenzie Bezos. We were firing on all cylinders and truly making history.

Fast forward to October 16th: Voters in Washington State began receiving their ballots and deciding whether or not couples like Colleen and Lee Ann, Chris and Chris, and thousands of others like them could marry one day. In the final weeks of the campaign, we made more than 75,000 calls every day and knocked on thousands of doors, urging folks to vote to approve Referendum 74.

At 4 a.m. on November 6th, more than 100 people stood in the Capitol Hill Action Center to Get Out the Vote. We opened the Action Center in June with the hopes of being the place where volunteers and supporters could get engaged with the campaign. It was more than that. It became the space where volunteers picked up their packets to knock on doors and called voters - more than 115,000 on Election Day alone.

While we didn’t have the official results in on Election Night, by the next day, we were confident we won. Our lead has grown every single day and while we anticipated a tight race, we’re up by 6 points. All of our hard work, dedication, and voter contact worked. We made history.

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