The effort to place a gay-inclusive
domestic partnership law up for a vote in Washington State appears to
be falling short.
With a looming deadline of Saturday at
2PM, opponents of the law dubbed by the media as the “everything
but marriage law” have only 4 full days left to gather thousands of
Opponents – a coalition of mostly
religious groups – announced their attempt to repeal the bill in
November, even before it became law in May. Gary Randall, president
of the Faith and Freedom Network, says his group filed Referendum 71
because the law is too close to marriage and violates the law.
“The bill … elevates homosexual
relationships to that of traditional marriage, thus eliminating any
legal difference between domestic partnerships and marriage,”
Randall wrote in a blog entry posted on the group's website before
the bill became law.
“I do not believe a majority [of]
Washingtonians believe in homosexual marriage, nor do they want to
become a national attraction for homosexuals from other states and
countries,” he added.
Organizers, however, admit that they
have fallen desperately behind in collecting the 120,577 valid
signatures needed to qualify the measure. Randall told the
conservative group Concerned Women for America that only 75,000
signatures had been collected as of Friday. Leaving the group at
least 45,577 signatures short. But in order to ensure there are
sufficient valid signatures, the group estimates it needs to collect
75,000 signatures. In other words, opponents need to collect as many
signatures in one week as they did in the previous seven to eight
The Democratic-controlled House passed
the bill in April along a mostly party-line vote of 62 to 35.
Senators approved the bill in March with a 30 to 18 vote, and
Governor Chris Gregoire signed the bill into law on May 18.
The law, sponsored by openly gay
Seattle Democrats Senator Ed Murray and Rep. Jamie Pedersen, expands
existing domestic partnership legislation to grant gay and lesbian
couples all the rights and benefits that the state offers married
heterosexual couples. The federal government, however, does not
recognize gay unions or marriages.
Washington State banned gay marriage in
1998 and the Washington State Supreme Court upheld the
constitutionality of the law in 2006.
Several opponents of gay marriage
argued in May that the fight against domestic partnerships was
unwinable and urged social conservatives to organize for the imminent
gay marriage battle ahead.
“Why fight a battle you can't win?
It will cause you to lose a war you can win,” Joseph Fuiten, a
Bothell pastor who is the leader of Positive Christian Agenda, told
Seattle's The News Tribune. “It will undermine our position
when it comes to fighting the marriage battle.”
If the measure qualifies for the
ballot, the law would be delayed until after the results of the
November election are known. The law is set to take effect on
Meanwhile, gay rights groups say the
referendum threat has accelerated the growth of pro-gay marriage
groups in Washington State. And the group WhoSigned.org
announced it would publish the names of signers to the petition on
the Internet should it qualify. (Similar postings have proven
controversial in other states, including California, Arkansas and