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 reported.

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 signatures.

“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 rights.

Gay rights groups say Referendum 71 has had the unintended effect of energizing the gay marriage movement in Washington State.

If the petition qualifies, gay rights group 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 Massachusetts).