R-71 campaign manager Josh Friedes says Washington gays may be happiest in the country. (Flickr)
Trying to make heads or tails of what will happen


Premature Predictions for Post-Referendum 71 Washington

R-71 campaign manager Josh Friedes says Washington gays may be happiest in the country. (Flickr)
Trying to make heads or tails of what will happen in the aftermath of Washington becoming the first state to have voter-approved rights for same-sex partners is a fool's errand. It's pretty plain to say this is just one of many steps in a fight for equal protections. A path that inevitably ends with marriage. But what else does it mean for the state?

The question seems appropriate in light of this Economist chart on where the gays live in America. We've reproduced the chart after the jump. Along with excerpts from a conversation with Josh Friedes, R-71's campaign manager, who says that if you want to know what gay America will end up looking like it's instructive to take a look at Jewish America first.

"Within areas that have large concentrations of Jewish people there's undoubtedly less anti-Semitism," says Friedes. "In the same way, there are areas in the country like Seattle and Pierce and Thurston where there are enough gays where stereotypes are diminishing. Therefore I think that undoubtedly having statewide protections we'll see Washington state be a place where people do move too because there families have real protections. Why be gay and lesbian and live in Idaho when you can live in Spokane and have 450 legal protections fror your family?"

We caught up with Friedes in Boston where he's staying with some friends for Thanksgiving. Like pretty much anyone involved in one of the November campaigns, he's a little exhausted from the effort and acknowledges it's way too early to draw conclusions. But anecdotally he says the R-71 aftermath will be felt immediately.

Take the couple he's crashing with. They were actually plaintiffs in a marriage equality lawsuit. At one point there was an opportunity for one of them to be transferred, but they chose to stay in Massachusetts because of marriage laws.

"You're going to see a lot of gay and lesbian couples not moving out of Washington," says Friedes. "You're going to retain that population. Because now families in Washington State are in the highest tier of protection. Why would you ever trade down?"

That top tier Friedes refers to includes Oregon and California on the West Coast, and Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire and New Jersey on the East. Perhaps because he was so close to R-71's passage or perhaps because it's true, however, Friedes says Washington is on a tier of its own.

"R-71 telescopes a message that no other state has, which is that the people of Washington have affirmed the protections of gay and lesbian people," he says.

The fact that gay and lesbians in the Seattle area can walk down the street knowing their straight neighbors supported their rights, says Friedes, unlike, say, their peers in San Francisco, contributes to another post-R-71 feeling that can't really be quantified but would look awfully good on a state tourism billboard. Washington: Home to the "highest gay mental health quotient in the nation."

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