Washington state voters have approved Referendum 71, keeping a law that expands state benefits for registered same-sex and some senior domestic partners.

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Washington state voters have approved Referendum 71, keeping a law that expands state benefits for registered same-sex and some senior domestic partners.

The tally late Thursday afternoon saw the vote to approve R-71 leading about 52 percent to 48 percent.

That lead now appears insurmountable. The Secretary of State’s Office estimates another 500,000 to 600,000 ballots statewide are still outstanding, with about half expected from King County, where the measure is being approved by slightly more than 2 to 1.

“Voters across the state listened to the personal stories of lesbian and gay families and the challenges they faced and sent a strong message that we want to see all families treated equally under the law in our state,” said Anne Levinson, chairwoman of Washington Families Standing Together, which worked for the measure’s approval.

But opponents of R-71 were not conceding Thursday afternoon.

Larry Stickney, head of Protect Marriage Washington, which worked for rejection of R-71, said: “There are a lot of votes out there still. We continue to have some hope that the votes cast later will move in our direction.”