Posts tagged: Referendum 71
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.)
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.
California’s supreme court has upheld Proposition 8, the state’s voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage. The ruling, however, allows thousands of same-sex marriages performed prior to the ban.
California’s experience has been closely watched in Washington, where gay marriage opponents have filed a referendum to undo a state law granting domestic partners most of the rights and responsibilities of spouses.
In interviews, foes of same-sex marriage cite Prop. 8 as evidence that voters, if given the chance, will reject it. (In Washington, the picture’s a little less clear, since the law targeted by the referendum stops short of full marriage.)
On the other side of the issue, some gay marriage proponents see California as an argument for a more incremental approach to winning the right to marry.
“If the brief back-and-forth history of marriage equality in California teaches us anything, it’s that progress must occur with public involvement and input, one step at a time,” said Washington state Sen. Ed Murray, D-Seattle, one of several openly gay lawmakers in Olympia.
“…In Washington, we remain dedicated to continuing our conversation with the public and steadily building upon our domestic partnership progress,” he said. “I’m confident that Washington state will soon be ready to accept — once and for all — full marriage equality for all.”
From the governor’s office:
Gov. Chris Gregoire on Monday will take action on three bills which expand rights to domestic partners:
Engrossed Substitute House Bill No. 1445, relating to domestic partners under the Washington State Patrol retirement system.
Engrossed House Bill No. 1616, relating to the state pension benefits of certain domestic partners.
Engrossed Second Substitute Senate Bill No. 5688, relating to further expanding the rights and responsibilities of state registered domestic partners.
10:30 a.m. Gov. Gregoire to take action on HB 1445, HB 1616 and SB 5688
Montlake Community Center, Multipurpose Room
1618 E Calhoun St
SB 5688 gives domestic partners, including same-sex couples, most of the rights and responsibilities of spouses under state law. (Federal law doesn’t recognize domestic partners.) It has prompted a referendum attempt by church groups and others who say that is virtually the same thing as same-sex marriage. The Faith and Freedom Network and others have filed Referendum 71, which would ask voters in November if they want to veto the new law.
Opponents of the state’s new “everything but marriage” law for same-sex domestic partners rushed to Olympia last week to file Referendum 71. The clock is ticking, and they only have until July 25th to gather 120,577 valid voter signatures. Assuming a cushion of about 25 percent for duplicate signatures, Mickey Mouses, people not registered to vote, etc., they’ll probably need about 150,000.
Today, however, Attorney General Rob McKenna’s office has said that the ballot title and summary won’t be issued until Gov. Chris Gregoire signs the bill into law. Since Gregoire doesn’t plan to sign the bill until Monday, that means another week lost before Referendum 71 filers can start printing up petitions.
(It also means, however, that the Refendum 71 folks won’t face the risk of spending thousands of dollars printing up petitions, only to see them all rendered moot if Gregoire vetoes some section of the bill.)
“We have begun our work in drafting a title and summary for this measure, but the bill in question has not yet been enacted, as it has not been approved by the Governor as required by the constitution,” deputy solicitor general Jim Pharris wrote today to Secretary of State Sam Reed, the state’s chief elections officer.
Gregoire can also veto parts of the bill. If she does that, Referendum 71 organizers would have to re-file the measure.