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Posts tagged: Larry Stickney

Trying to fine-tune the wording, same-sex marriage foes file court challenge…

People trying to overturn a new law giving expanded rights to same-sex domestic partners have filed an 11th-hour appeal of the proposed ballot language.

The move sets their own signature-gathering effort back at least a week, but seems aimed at boosting their odds by trying to make voters see domestic partnerships as virtually identical to marriage.

Shortly before the 5 p.m. deadline today, Arlington’s Larry Stickney filed an appeal with the Thurston County Superior Court. He wants a judge to re-word the description and ballot summary of Referendum 71.

Here’s the summary language originally proposed by the Attorney General’s office (the bold-facing is mine, to highlight the differences):

Same-sex couples, or any couple that includes one person age sixty-two or older, may register as a domestic partnership with the state.  Registered domestic partnerships are not marriages, and marriage is prohibited except between one man and one woman.  This bill would expand the rights, responsibilities, and obligations of registered domestic partners and their families to include all rights, responsibilities, and obligations granted by or imposed by state law on married couples and their families.

Here’s what Stickney proposes instead:

This bill would expand the rights, responsibilities and obligations of registered domestic partners to be equal to the rights, responsibilities and obligations granted by or imposed by state law on married couples, except that domestic partnerships will not be called marriages.

Similarly, here’s the original description wording proposed by the AG:

“Concise Description: This bill would expand the rights, responsibilities, and obligations accorded state-registered same-sex and senior domestic partners to be equivalent to those of married spouses, except that a domestic partnership is not a marriage.”

And here’s how Stickney would like it to read:

“Concise Statement: This bill would expand the rights, responsibilities and obligations of state-registered same-sex and senior domestic partnerships, to be equal to the rights, responsibilities and obligations of married couples, except that domestic partnerships will not be called marriages.

The point, clearly, is to suggest that domestic partnerships are now essentially the same thing as marriage. That’s what critics of the new law have been saying — and proponents have been denying — for months. In fact, state Sen. Ed Murray, one of several openly gay lawmakers and the sponsor of the bill, has repeatedly called the legislation the “everything but marriage” bill.

According to Brian Zylstra, spokesman for the Secretary of State’s office, the case has been assigned to Judge Thomas McPhee, but no date’s yet been set. (Case number: 09-2-01278-1)

The court typically handles such cases as part of its Friday motion calendar, meaning that the earliest date would be May 29. The Secretary of State’s office says that June 5 or June 12 is probably more likely. 

If it’s the latter date, Stickney and affiliated church groups and social conservatives would have just six weeks to print and circulate petitions. To get R-71 on the November ballot for a statewide vote, they need at least 120,577 voter signatures by July 25th.

Opponents of the “everything but marriage” law for domestic partners seek a voter veto…

(Photo: people waiting to testify at a House hearing re: domestic partnerships in February.)

Foes of the state’s new “everything but marriage” law plan to file a referendum at noon today at the Secretary of State’s elections office in Olympia, according to Dave Ammons, a spokesman for Secretary of State Sam Reed.

The measure’s apparently being filed by Larry Stickney, president of the Washington Values Alliance, and supporters.

The bill, expected to be signed into law soon by Gov. Chris Gregoire, expands the rights and responsibilities of same sex (and heterosexual senior citizen) domestic partners, granting them most of rights of spouses. It does not allow same-sex marriage. But foes of the legislation, including Stickney, argue that the changes set the stage for a court challenge that could lead to same-sex marriage.

Stickney and supporters would have until July 25th to gather 120,577 valid voter signatures, according to Ammons. If they get enough, the measure would appear on the Nov. 3 ballot for voters to decide.

The filing also means that the new law will be suspended until the referendum is decided.


The road to same-sex marriage: Both sides weigh in….

Lawmakers in the House and Senate have introduced bills to broaden the rights of couples who register with the state as domestic partners. So far, nearly 5,000 couples have signed up for the registry. Many are same-sex partners; others are heterosexual senior citizens. (The latter group could marry, but doing so would mean that some widows and widowers would lose pension benefits or other rights linked to a deceased spouse.)

Two years ago, lawmakers approved the registry and granted the partners rudimentary rights, such as being able to visit each other in the hospital and make health care decisions for each other.

Last year, those rights and responsibilities were expanded to cover property rights and set up a formal process for dissolving the partnerships.

This year’s legislation — a first draft was nearly 2,000 pages long — is an attempt to give those couples virtually all the rights and responsibilities of married couples in Washington. It covers about 300 things, including pension benefits, estate taxes and things as mundane as automatically transferring a business license to the surviving family member.

For the purposes of this chapter, the terms spouse, marriage, marital, husband, wife, widow, widower, next of kin, and family shall be interpreted as applying equally to state registered domestic partnerships…

the bill says repeatedly. The couples would not, however, be married. Two other bills would allow same sex marriage, but neither of those is expected to pass this year.

“It is not marriage, but it is everything that heterosexual families have currently,” said Sen. Ed Murray, D-Seattle.

Marriage, he and other proponents say, remains the goal.

“What we know

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Richard Roesler covers Washington state news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Olympia.

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