Gay foes filed paperwork Monday to begin the referendum process on an expansion to Washington state's domestic partnership law, delaying the start of the law.

Governor Chris Gregoire has yet to sign the “everything but marriage” bill but has said she supports the measure.

The law was expected to take effect on July 26 but will now have to wait until after opponents file their final paperwork. If opponents gather the 120,500 voter signatures required to qualify for the ballot by July 25, the law is delayed until the results of the November election are known.

The Democratically-controlled House approved the bill last month that grants gay and lesbian couples all the rights and benefits that the state offers married couples except the name.

The Washington Supreme Court has upheld the legality of a state law that bans gay marriage. Opponents of the domestic partnership expansion say it redefines marriage and violates the law.

Leading the effort are the conservative groups Faith and Freedom Network and Washington Values Alliance and Faith.

“The bill … elevates homosexual relationships to that of traditional marriage, thus eliminating any legal difference between domestic partnerships and marriage,” Gary Randall, president of the Faith and Freedom Network, wrote in a blog entry posted on the group's website.

Opponents might be facing an uphill battle. Polling shows anti-gay sentiment has greatly diminished in Washington state. A recent national ABC News/Washington Post poll shows a large majority (67%) of respondents support legal recognition of gay unions – including domestic partnerships and civil unions.