The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to block release of the names of signers of a petition that attempted to repeal a Washington law that recognizes gay and lesbian couples with nearly all the legal protections of marriage, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported.

“This means we can once again release these public records,” Katie Blinn, co-director of the state elections in the office of Secretary of State Sam Reed, told the paper.

Gay marriage opponents wanted to block the public release of the nearly 138,000 signatures that put Referendum 71 on the state's ballot in 2009 while a lower court's ruling is appealed to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. The ballot initiative asked voters to accept – or reject – an expansion of an existing domestic partnership law approved by lawmakers. Voters opted 53-to-46 to keep the law dubbed “everything but marriage” by the media.

Protect Marriage Washington, the Christian conservative group behind the lawsuit, argued that the signers would be harmed – either verbally or physically – if their names were disclosed.

“We still think the people who signed these petitions in good faith acted in a way they didn't think would expose them to the kind of ridicule and possible danger we feel is out there,” Protect Marriage Washington Spokesman Gary Randall earlier told the Seattle Times.

The development might effect a repeal effort expected to take place if Washington lawmakers approve a proposed gay marriage bill next year.