Sunday's start of a gay-inclusive
domestic partnership law dubbed the “everything but marriage” law
will be delayed until after petition signatures to force a public
vote are counted. And if the petition qualifies, then the law would
be shelved until after the outcome of November's election is known.
Opponents of the law turned in the
signatures on Saturday about 3PM, the Seattle Post Intelligencer
To qualify Referendum 71 backers need
120,577 valid voter signatures, a goal proponents have said they will
meet. But election officials say on average 18% of signatures are
deemed invalid. To be certain, they suggest submitting about 150,000
“They're definitely running on fumes,
in terms of trying to get their pad,” Dave Ammons, a spokesman for
the secretary of state's office, told the paper.
If it qualifies and fails in November,
the measure would only repeal rights approved by the Legislature this
year, the second time the domestic partnership law has been extended.
Governor Chris Gregoire signed into law the original bill that
created the domestic partnership law and the two extensions.
Rights granted under the latest
extension include the right to use sick leave to care for a spouse,
the right to wages from an injured or deceased spouse, the right to
unemployment and disability insurance benefits, and various insurance
Gay rights groups say Referendum 71 has
had the unintended effect of energizing the gay marriage movement in
If the petition qualifies, gay rights
has said it will publish the names of signers on the Internet. Names
of people who sign petitions become public record after the secretary
of state's office verifies a petition. (Similar postings have proven
controversial in other states, including California, Arkansas and