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Referendum 74 reactions

Chloe West, Online Editor - December 2, 2012

Some couples leave the state to get married on the beach, while others may leave so more of their friends and family can attend. But for some, leaving to get married is their only choice.

On the Nov. 6 ballot, Washington State voters had the chance to accept or reject the legalization of same-sex marriage. After counting the votes and waiting on the results, it was soon decided that it would pass by 3.58 percent.

Staff member Michelle Adams, who has considered her and her partner married, regardless of recognition, didn’t hold her breath waiting for results.

“I don’t believe that other people should be able to define my relationship,” Adams said. “When they kept predicting [the results] here, I thought, ‘I’m not going to get my hopes up.’”

Although same-sex couples are now recognized in Washington, it is still only one step of many to be taken on its way to becoming a federal law. According to Joanna Hunt, staff member at Central Washington University, more states need to follow the route of legalizing same-sex marriage, and the next step is a Supreme Court decision.

“I’m hoping that with the passage not just in Washington, but the way the other four states went, that it puts more weight on the federal laws, ‘cause that’s probably one of the bigger issues,” Adams said.

For most same-sex couples, it is a scary thought that if something happens to their partner while they’re away, decisions could be left up to immediate family only. Because other states don’t recognize same-sex marriages yet, it becomes difficult to leave when restrictions are put in place.

Just to go on vacation Adams tells us she needs at least six copies of identification information for her and her partner in case of an emergency. On one occasion when Hunt’s wife had to be hospitalized, she feared that if her wife’s mother had power of attorney, she would be pushed out of the picture.

“Most people don’t think about that,” says Hunt. “If some girl’s boyfriend is in the hospital she’s not going to get the third degree at the door. I would.”

Since a marriage wouldn’t be recognized here before a couple of weeks ago, Hunt and her wife went to Canada in 2007, after being together almost four years, to make theirs official. Hunt believes marriage is a personal contract between two people and says it needs to be two people coming together in the eyes of the state.

“We don’t define [hetero] relationships but they get to define mine,” said Adams. “I never understood.”

To have the legal right to help their partner and make decisions in a same-sex unity is one of the reasons Hunt believed this to be a necessary law to pass. Someone can be domestically partnered but it’s the same as saying, “I have a roommate,” she points out.
“People can’t get over the word ‘marriage,’” Hunt said. “It doesn’t have to do with anybody else but two people and whatever judge notarizes that paper.”

Both Adams and Hunt consider the passing of Referendum 74 a big step, but only one of many that will need to lead up to same-sex couples being federally recognized. Once it is federal, Hunt says, everything will be in the works for a wedding and a party with friends.

“My wife is very excited for Referendum 74 passing and we’ve had people ask us when we’re getting married,” says Hunt. “I’m excited but I’m a cautious excited.”

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