Two anti-gay referendums hit certification on Wednesday.

In Maine, election officials made the obvious official: Voters will decide the fate of a recently passed gay marriage law. The certification came as no surprise considering backers turned in nearly twice the number of signatures needed to qualify for the ballot.

Maine became the fifth state to legalize gay marriage on May 6, when Maine Governor John Baldacci signed a gay marriage bill approved by lawmakers.

Passage put Baldacci, a Democrat who had previously said he opposed gay marriage but remained buttoned up as lawmakers debated the issue, in an uncomfortable position. Opponents urged the governor to veto the bill, while proponents pleaded for a signature.

Baldacci decided not to veto the bill. Ironically, Baldacci also signed the formal proclamation that puts the so-called “people's veto” on the November ballot.

“I fully support this legislation and believe it guarantees that all Maine citizens are treated equally under our state's civil marriage laws,” Baldacci said about the gay marriage law. “But I also have a constitutional obligation to set the date for the election once the secretary of state has certified that enough signatures have been submitted.”

The nation's most vociferous opponent of gay marriage, the National Organization for Marriage, and the Catholic Diocese of Portland formed the Stand for Marriage Maine coalition to push for repeal.

In Washington State, Secretary of State Sam Reed certified Referendum 71 on Wednesday. The measure puts a gay-inclusive domestic partnership law up for a vote.

The 23 days of signature counting turned into a daily drama, with early statistics released by election officials suggesting an unusually high error rate. The referendum turned a corner when master checkers approved previously rejected signatures. Referendum 71 qualified with possibly the narrowest margin ever – only 1,270 signatures to spare – and one of the lowest error rates ever, only 11.5 percent.

Decisions made by the secretary of state – to accept unsigned declarations and voters who were not registered at the time they signed the petition – have already sparked a lawsuit aimed at blocking the referendum from reaching the November ballot.

The “everything but marriage” law being challenged extends a 2007 domestic partnership law for the second time, granting gay and lesbian couples all the remaining state-provided rights, benefits and responsibilities of marriage.