A temporary restraining order issued Wednesday blocks the release of a list of people supporting the repeal of a gay-inclusive domestic partnership law in Washington State, the Seattle Times reported.

On Saturday, opponents of the law turned in about 138,000 petition signatures, delaying the start of the law which was supposed to begin last Sunday. Petition supporters need 120,577 valid voter signatures to qualify Referendum 71 for the ballot but election officials say 18% of signatures are often thrown out, leaving supporters with little room for errors.

If the petition qualifies, gay rights group WhoSigned.org 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 verifies a petition.

That prompted Protect Marriage Washington, the campaign behind Referendum 71, to seek protection from U.S. District Judge Benjamin Settle, a Bush administration appointee.

The campaign argued that the public release of the names of people who signed the petition would put them at risk of harassment, reprisals and boycotts of their businesses, amounting to an unconstitutional infringement on free speech rights.

Wednesday's order forbids the Secretary of State from releasing the names, for now. A hearing is scheduled for Sept. 3.

The Christian-based legal group Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) earlier set up a Referendum 71 webpage to collect data from people who “have been threatened or suffered retaliation after signing an R-71 petition” or have been prevented from signing a petition.

If it qualifies and fails in November, Referendum 71 would only repeal rights approved by the Legislature this year, the second time the gay-inclusive 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. This year's law places domestic partners on par with married couples with regards to rights and obligations offered by the state, and was dubbed the “everything but marriage” bill by the media. Washington State bans gay marriage by law.

Allegations of dirty tricks in collecting the signatures have already surfaced. The most damaging is video shot last weekend by a twenty-seven-year-old filmmaker that shows a petitioner asking people who are in favor of gay marriage to sign a Referendum 71 petition,which is neither about marriage nor is it pro-gay.

“We can't let discrimination be perpetuated and sit back and say, 'That's OK,'” Brian Murphy of WhoSigned.org told the paper.