Gay marriage and legal marijuana in Washington state moved closer to reality late Tuesday as ballot returns showed both measures gaining ground as votes were tallied.
I-502 would make small amounts of pot legal for people 21 and older. Referendum 74 -- one of four gay marriage initiatives nationally -- seeks to allow legal same-sex unions statewide. Late Tuesday, R-74 held a slight advantage with 51.7 percent in favor compared to 48.2 percent against.
At an election party in downtown Seattle, Mary Dispenza, 72, of Bellevue said if R-74 passes, she plans to marry her partner of 20 years, Mary Ann.
"I have had this intuitive feeling that this might just pass," she said, adding that she's watched people's views shift over time as they realize gay people are friends, neighbors and family.
"I just feel that the time is right."
Amber Curnow of Issaquah doesn't see it the same way, even though her sibling is gay. She said that she was opposed to Referendum 74, but was surprised that early returns didn't show landslide support.
"My brother is gay, and I love him and his partner," she said. "But for the family structure to be redefined that way, I'm not ready to do that yet."
Pot legalization backers were pleased I-502 appeared poised to pass as it held firm with 55 percent of the vote. But the measure's conflict with federal drug law remains an open question.
Lisa Sanderson of West Seattle said she was pleased to see I-502 appear to be passing. "I'm in favor of legalizing marijuana for tax revenue," she said.
But her friend, Curnow of Issaquah, who is an attorney, is against I-502 on legal grounds, and because of the taxation aspect of it.
"It sets people up," she said. "We're not at a point where the federal law and the state law would be the same -- it sets people up to be in trouble with the feds."