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Washington voters pass same-sex marriage, CNN projects

By Ashley Fantz, CNN
updated 3:21 PM EST, Fri November 9, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • 1,269,917 residents voted for same-sex marriage; 1,146,439 voted against
  • 75% of precincts were reporting results by early Friday
  • Washington joins Maine and Maryland in approving couples' right to wed
  • NEW: "It feels equal," Seattle man says of right to marry his longtime partner

(CNN) -- The lunch hour is usually hectic at Duos Catering in Seattle. But Thursday the phone was ringing off the hook.

In between orders of crab cakes and pan seared scallops, many people wanted to congratulate Benjamin Jury and Joshua Cooper. The longtime couple could finally get married legally in Washington, according to ballots tallied from Tuesday's election.

The state has joined Maine and Maryland, which have passed ballot measures making same-sex marriage legal.

Voters approve same-sex marriage on Election Day

After nearly two days of counting in Washington, the voting broke down this way: 1,269,917 residents are in favor of it while 1,146,439 are not. By early afternoon Friday, 75% of precincts were reporting results.

"In the past, getting married wasn't something that I thought was possible," Jury, 33, told CNN. "It never crossed my mind that I would get married. But after falling in love with Josh, and him just being a part of my life, how could we be given everything but the right to marry? Now it's so real, and it feels equal."

Cooper said he proposed marriage in January while the two vacationed in Thailand. They had been together for years. They started their business together. Their families adored each other. In every respect, they felt like partners for life.

If the state was only going to recognize them as domestic partners, that was unfortunate, they thought. But it wasn't going to stop them from committing to each other symbolically.

"We had a kind attitude if the state didn't see us as being married, at least we can," Cooper said. "I would still tell people that he was my husband. But this is special. This right, this vote, it means a lot."

Proponents of same-sex marriage echoed the couple's jubilation this week. On Tuesday, Wisconsin elected the United States' first openly lesbian senator, Democrat Tammy Baldwin. A re-elected President Obama became the first president to openly support same-sex marriage.

Also on Tuesday, Minnesota rejected a ban on same-sex marriage.

Back in Washington, Jeff Dorion and Ryan Hicks were thrilled that after 11 years together they could legally wed.

They're heading to a courthouse December 10.

"We were engaged sort of but we never really called it that because we felt we couldn't," Dorion said.

Late Tuesday night as the first election results began coming in, his friends began getting in touch. They were overjoyed, many believing that same-sex marriage would be victorious in Washington, as it had been in Maine and Maryland.

Relatives living in Germany called to congratulate him.

"I was cautious at first," he said. But when opponents conceded defeat and news organizations began calling results, he was all smiles.

Thursday afternoon, Dorion changed his Facebook status to "engaged."

"We got so many responses," he laughed. "That got everyone's attention!"

While gay rights proponents celebrate this week, many are looking to the U.S. Supreme Court. The justices are expected to decide November 20 on whether to weigh several cases including whether the federal government can deny benefits to married same-sex couples.

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