So, I did go to town hall in support of gay marriage rights in Puyallup tonight, and here's the rundown. Sorry this is long, but this is important to me, and lots of others!
The groups Equal Rights Washington and Washington United for Marriage are working along with some other groups (like HRC, etc.) to lobby the state legislature to pass law that will legalize civil marriage for everyone in the state. This is for legalizing gay marriage, though they are using the terms "civil marriage" or "equal marriage" more often.
The law is not on the written yet but intent is for it to be similar to the law passed in New York, including the religious exemptions so that no church or religious group will have to perform ceremonies should they not wish to; the legal licenses for marriages to be performed will be issued by the state.
They already have the votes to pass it in the state house, but are not quite yet there in the state senate. They have a promise from Governor Gregoire that she will sign the bill when it gets to her desk. So the first part of the campaign is to get out a grassroots movement for people to contact their state legislators to express their support and get the needed votes. (50 in the house, 25 in the senate).
They're also preparing for a second phase in which they might have to fight a ballot referendum that would attempt to overturn the law once passed. Getting sufficient signatures would mean that the law could not take effect until the ballot measure is decided.
If anyone is aware of/remembers WA R-71 from 2009, that was when the state legislature passed the "everything but marriage" law that extended rights to domestic partnerships in the state. Enough signatures were gathered to put R-71 on the ballot to attempt as a "veto referendum" to repeal that law and thus the extension of rights should the referendum to not pass. Veto referendums in this context make your yeses and nos confusing; the point is that the state public voted to keep domestic partnership rights.
-- At the time, and to my knowledge, this is still true, this was the first instance in the US for a public vote upholding or extending any same-sex rights, even though it was not actual marriage. I know it was said tonight that should the law pass, and a ballot referendum come up to repeal it, that it would make history for being the first time marriage equality would be approved via a popular vote. So WA state has a plausible history for making this happen and upholding it, as well as to make history besides the attempt to be the 7th state to legalize gay marriage.
-- Current polling suggests that, just as in the US as a whole, the majority of people in WA state are in favor of gay marriage rights.
-- The strongest indicator for whether or not someone will support equal rights is whether or not they know, or feel they know someone who is LGBT. Personalizing and humanizing the campaign for rights gains supporters. They suggested the best way to persuade the undecided was to tell a story about yourself or someone you know who is LGBT and why rights are important to them. This coincides with research I've read about how people are persuaded by story and narrative, and are more likely to remember it, or simply remember your cause and that they support it, even if they don't remember exactly why.
If you're a WA state resident, or if you're not a WA state resident but know someone who is, persuade them to contact their legislator in support of passing the civil marriage legislation. They also stressed the importance of simply being heard in social media and in writing letters to the editor or to legislators directly. They want people to tell their stories.
Websites for those groups have links to their facebook and twitter pages. The Washington for Marriage page is extremely new and will have more information later, and ways to figure out who and how to contact your state legislator. Because I didn't know, I seriously had to bust out my voter card to see what my legislative district was when they were asking people who was from where by show of hands.
I was either one of two, or the only person (at least who spoke up/rose hand) from my district, which is really not that far at all from the Puyallup town hall, so this matters, though it's possible my district might lean a little more towards the Lakewood town hall tomorrow. I'm at the northern edge of the big vast district of all the nowhere that is SE Pierce County, and all three of my state legislators are republicans, but apparently my state senator Randi Becker is someone they think they can move to a yes vote.
You can also call the State Legislator hotline, which will help you identify WHO your legislator is and leave them a short message which they will receive:
1-800-562-6000 - Washington State Legislator Hotline
Or their website: http://www.leg.wa.gov/pages/home.aspx