Photo Retrospective: The road to the freedom to marry in Washington!

2012 was a landmark year for the freedom to marry in Washington State - and in just a few days, on December 9, after an entire year of work on winning marriage - the first same-sex couples in the state will finally be able to receive a marriage license. Relive the amazing 2012 road for the campaign to win marriage in Washington.

1. Both houses of the Washington state legislature approved the freedom to marry on February 8, 2012, after it passed out of the state Senate and the state House of Representatives. Before the vote, Washington had a broad domestic partnership law, which afforded same-sex couples some of the protections - but none of the dignity and respect - that marriage provides.

2. On February 13, Governor Christine Gregoire signed the bill into law. A provision in the act allowed opponents of the law to collect enough signatures to place the law before Washington voters in a referendum. (Photo by Getty Images) 

3. Immediately, anti-gay activists worked to collect enough signatures to put the freedom to marry to a vote. They succeeded on June 12, 2012, and Referendum 74 qualified for the ballot. To defend the law, a coalition of organizations, businesses, institutions, and activists in the state formed Washington United for Marriage

4. The campaign to approve Referendum 74 and uphold the freedom to marry for same-sex couples quickly became one of the most dynamic, energized campaigns in Washington state history. The campaign made hundreds of thousands of phone calls, and in August, dozens of canvassers were dispatched throughout the state each day to "door-bell" and talk about why marriage matters. Read some success stories from the field HERE.  (Photo courtesy of Washington United for Marriage)

5. The freedom to marry saw enormous support from the business sector - from small businesses to large corporations to trailblazing business leaders. 327 small businesses stood up for Referendum 74 in Washington United's "Small Biz for Marriage" week, and their Small Business Captain program engaged dozens of small businesses to work toward victory. Huge corporations. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and his wife MacKenzie Bezos gifted the Washington campaign with a record donation of $2.5 million (below), Bill and Melinda Gates lent huge financial backing, and Expedia, Nordstrom, EMC Corporation, and T-Mobile also officially endorsed Referendum 74. 

6. People of faith joined the campaign to approve Referendum 74, too - speaking out about why their faith compels them to support, rather than reject, the freedom to marry for loving same-sex couples. Two television ads explicitly reached out to people of faith - including one featuring six different faith leaders explaining that Referendum 74 extends CIVIL marriage protections. One faith leader inthe video says, "Marriage matters to all of us. We should protect religious freedom, and allow all committed same-sex couples to marry. Referendum 74 does both." 

7. A large contingent of Republican voters also emerged as advocates for ending the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage. Former Washington Governor and U.S. Senator Dan Evans, a Republican politician voiced his support, explaining, "As a Republican, I believe strongly in individual liberty and freedom." Early in the campaign, a Washington state senator from the GOP, Cheryl Pflug, who joined three other Republicans in voting for the marriage bill in February, filmed a video supporting Referendum 74. 

7. Couples spoke out about why marriage matters to them - including Colleen and Lee Ann from Seattle, Pablo and Derek from Tacoma (below), and Corianton and Keith from Seattle. Read their stories HERE. 

8. By noon on the West Coast on the day after Election Day, November 7, the race for the freedom to marry is called: Referendum 74 is approved! All same-sex couples in the state will be able to marry. The final spread of the votes when all are counted is 53.2 percent approval to 46.8 percent opposed. Throughout the campaign, Washington United for Marriage raised $12.3 million from over 27 thousand different donors, 80 percent of whom lived in Washington state. The campaign achieved 30,000 hours of direct voter outreach, thanks to ten thousand three-hour volunteer shifts. In the week before the election, 100,000 doors were knocked to get out the vote, and nearly 200,000 phone calls were logged on the Monday before the election and Election Day alone.  

9. On December 5, Governor Christine Gregoire certified Referendum 74 in Olympia, WA, signing it into law. She said, "This is a very important and historic day in the great state of Washington. For many years now, we've said one more step, one more step. And this is our last step for marriage equality in the state of Washington." (Photo by AP)

10. On December 6, beginning at midnight, same-sex couples across the state began applying for marriage licenses. Here are photos of the first couples in King County, WA, including Jane and Pete-e (together over 30 years), Stuart and John (together 35 years), and Dan Savage and Terry Miller, who sat on our National Honorary Host Committee for the National Engagement Party in October. (Photos by Joe Mirabella)

11. Now, couples in Washington who applied for marriage licenses must wait three days. Thus, on December 9, the first same-sex couples in Washington will finally be married! (Photo by Joe Mirabella)

12. Victory is sweet. (Photo by Kristen Marie Parker)