A gay rights group has announced it will publish the names of foes of a Washington law that recognizes gay and lesbian couples with nearly all the legal protections of marriage.

On Monday, social conservatives lost their legal case to keep private the names of signers of a petition that attempted to repeal the law.

Conservatives wanted to block the public release of the nearly 138,000 signatures that put Referendum 71 on the state's ballot in 2009. The ballot initiative asked voters to accept – or reject – an expansion of an existing domestic partnership law approved by lawmakers. Voters opted 53-to-46 to keep the law dubbed “everything but marriage” by the media.

Protect Marriage Washington, the Christian conservative group behind the lawsuit, argued that the signers would be harmed – either verbally or physically – if their names were disclosed. But U.S. District Judge Benjamin Settle of Tacoma disagreed, saying the group failed to show any “serious and widespread threats, harassment, or reprisals against the signers of R-71.”

Know Thy Neighbor has all along said it wanted to post the names in an Internet-based searchable database in an effort to stimulate critical conversations.

Director Tom Lang told NPR: “About people who've been in people's weddings parties and they've signed, people in families where the grandmother signed knowing darned well that her grandson was gay. These are the types of conversations that are being had.”