Referendum 74

Same-sex couples can start applying for marriage licenses in Washington at midnight on Thursday, and county officials say they’ll be ready.

The King County auditor’s office will open bright and early: Couples will be able to start queuing up at 10:00 the night before. County Executive Dow Constantine will preside over a special licensing ceremony for a handful of couples right after the stroke of midnight, and the office will keep operating right through 6:30 that night.

Gary Davis / KPLU

Washington voters are narrowly approving same-sex marriage in the state, following the lead of voters in Maryland and Maine, where ballot measures on same-sex unions also are holding slim leads.

With about half of the expected vote counted Tuesday night, Referendum 74 was passing with 53 percent of the vote.

The referendum asked voters to approve or reject the state's new law legalizing same-sex marriage. That law was passed by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Chris Gregoire earlier this year, but it's been on hold pending the election's outcome.

Seka Ojdrovic-Phillips / KPLU

With ballots and voters’ guides in-hand, it’s time to narrow in on the issues. For those who prefer an interactive way to exchange opinions on the ballot measures, there’s the Living Voters Guide, sponsored by Seattle CityClub and the University of Washington.

Humanosphere

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — Bill and Melinda Gates have donated $500,000 to the campaign to uphold the state's same-sex marriage law.

Simply Boaz / Flickr

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Last minute money is pouring into the ballot fight over same-sex marriage in Washington. Those dollars are buying television ads on both sides of the issue. So what claims are the campaigns making?

Gay rights advocates say Referendum 74 is about marriage equality. But the first TV ad from the Preserve Marriage Washington campaign disputes that notion.

Announcer: “Referendum 74 is not about equality. Gays and lesbians already have the same legal rights as married couples.”

Nordstrom

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — Upscale department store chain Nordstrom Inc. has joined a number of Pacific Northwest businesses in expressing support for same-sex marriage.

Elsie Esq. / KPLU

Seattle's 38th annual Pride Parade is coming up this Sunday. The parade usually draws big crowds, but with a referendum on same-sex marriage on the November ballot, parade organizers are expecting a record turnout.

"I think we’re going to see an increase this year, especially with the marriage referendum out there," says Adam Rosencrantz, the board president of Seattle Out and Proud, the group hosting the parade. "People are going to come out and support us and show their excitement."