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Eye On Olympia

Posts tagged: R-71

Christian lawyers’ group opens hotline for R-71 harassment…

The Arizona-based Alliance Defense Fund today launched a free phone hotline and website to gather accounts of threats or other harassment of people gathering signatures for Referendum 71. The ballot measure asks voters to throw out a new law granting state-registered domestic partners, including same-sex couples, most of the same rights as spouses under state law.

“If you have been threatened or suffered retaliation after signing an R-71 petition, or someone prevented you from signing an R-71 petition, please tell us what happened,” the website says, urging people to fill out a “legal intervention request form.”

“Washington voters shouldn’t have to choose between being involved in the democratic process and opening themselves up to possible acts of retaliation as a result of having their personal information posted on the Web,” ADF senior counsel Gary McCaleb said in a press release announcing the hotline and website.

The group maintains that the new law makes marriage and domestic partnerships “effectively the same except in name,” a premise that legislative proponents deny.

The ADF’s move is partly in response to whosigned.org, a group that’s vowing to publicize the names of anyone who signs the petitions to put the measure on the fall ballot. Opponents are also running a “decline to sign” online pledge in hopes of preventing social conservatives from getting the roughly 150,000 signatures they’ll need to trigger a statewide vote.

Referendum 71 foes launch whosigned.org to publicize the names of people who sign the petitions…

A group opposing Referendum 71 says it will publicize the names of everyone who signs petitions to put Referendum 71 on the fall ballot.

The group, which has named the site whosigned.org, says that the referendum process “must meet a high standard of transparency to ensure a fair and open discussion in the public forum.”

The referendum asks voters to veto Senate Bill 5688, a new law granting domestic partners many of the same rights and responsibilities of spouses. From the website:

Once signature petitions for initiatives and referenda are submitted and verified by the Secretary of State they are part of the public record.  When signatures for Referendum 71 have been verified WhoSigned.Org will:

-Work to make this public record signature information accessible and searchable on the internet.
-Flag the 3% signature sample that is certified by the Elections Division of the Secretary of State.
-Provide Washington State Voters with a way to check that the public record of their advocacy is correct.
-Provide Washington State Voters with a way of reporting when their signature has been recorded either fraudulently or in error.

(I’m hoping to hear back from Brian Murphy, one of the organizers of the site. Will update when I do.)

R-71 proponents drop lawsuit over ballot language, say petitions ready tomorrow…

Washington Values Alliance President Larry Stickney has dropped his challenge to the ballot language for Stickney’s Referendum 71, and organizers say that petitions could hit the streets as early as tomorrow.

The measure asks voters to veto legislation that gives domestic partners many of the same rights and responsibilities as spouses, but not the right to actually marry.

The language, as is normal, was written by the attorney general’s office. Stickney last week filed a challenge, wanting to tweak some of the language. But proponents already face a very tight timeline — July 25th — to gather the 120,577 voter signatures required to get the measure on the ballot.

“After a meeting in Olympia yesterday, we decided to withdraw our filing in favor of having a few more days to collect signatures,” R-71 proponent Gary Randall said in an e-mail to supporters over the weekend. “We became aware of several things that were in motion to further delay our signature-gathering.”

Randall says that petitions should be available Tuesday. They’ll apparently be several pages long. That’s because Senate Bill 5688 was 112 pages long, and the initiative process requires that an entire bill be printed on the petitions that voters are asked to sign. (Virtually no one reads this text, but it has to be there.)

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.

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

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