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Gregoire OKs gay marriage; ballot challenge launched

by David Ammons | February 13th, 2012

Joseph Backholm pays the $5 filing fee as he files R-73 Monday afternoon.

Feb. 14 UPDATE: The referendum number has been changed to R-74.

Challengers of Washington’s newly signed gay-marriage bill have filed a referendum challenge.  Less than four hours after Gov. Chris Gregoire signed into law the bill authorizing civil marriage for same-sex couples, SB6239, Joseph Backholm of Preserve Marriage Washington filed Referendum 74 seeking to overturn the law.

Backholm, who has the backing of a number of in-state and national organizations, said it will be an expensive and hard-fought campaign, but that he expects to prevail.

“I don’t think it’s that hard of a case to make,” he told reporters at the Office of Secretary of State.  “There are lots of meaningful relationships that are not called marriage.  Marriage should be reserved for a man and a woman and the children they raise.”

Christopher Plante of the National Organization for Marriage, said each side will spend $2 million-$6 million getting their message out.  Backholm said “I’m very confident.”

The referendum simply takes the exact language of the bill that the Legislature passed and Gregoire signed, and places it on the ballot.  The voter’s  choice will be to affirm the law or to reject it – so essentially the sponsors who are bringing the referendum forward will be asking for a “reject” vote on their own measure.  Supporters of gay marriage will be asking for a vote to affirm the law.

Several hundred cheering partisans, and one heckler, crowded into the ornate State Reception Room for the governor’s bill-signing ceremony.

Sen. Ed Murray and Rep. Jamie Pedersen, both Seattle Democrats from the 43rd District, the prime sponsors, spoke before Gregoire took the podium to loud cheers and the chant “Gregoire! Gregoire! Gregoire.”  She was flanked by many of the legislators who voted for the measure during the past two weeks. Crowds lined the balconies and steps of the Rotunda, watching on closed-circuit TV.

Gregoire, emotional at times, said it was a proud and defining moment for civil rights in Washington, and predicted that if the measure is placed on the ballot as a referendum, voters will uphold it, as they did R-71, the “everything but marriage” law in 2009.

Her statement: http://tinyurl.com/7dkxcnh

Challengers attempted to file a ballot challenge before Gregoire had acted on the bill, and were asked to come back later in the day.  Backholm and other supporters returned at 3:30 and after interviews, Backholm signed his paperwork and paid his filing fee with a $5 bill.

It takes 120,577 valid signatures of registered Washington voters to secure a place on the ballot. The Elections Division suggests submitting at least 150,000 to cover invalid or duplicate signatures.  The signature deadline is June 6.  If signatures are turned in, that suspends the new law from taking effect as scheduled on June 7.  If the challengers don’t turn in enough signatures, the marriage law would go into effect then. If the challengers qualify for the ballot, then the law would stay on hold until the Nov. 6 election and certification on Dec. 6.

Some FAQs: http://tinyurl.com/7drjq4c

Also, Stephen Pidgeon, a candidate for attorney general and an anti-gay marriage activist, has filed Initiative 1192 to essentially pose the same question to Washington voters.  His measure would restate the law as it exists before the new gay-marriage law – that marriage is defined as the union of one man and one woman, with other civil unions barred.

He has not been able to start collecting signatures yet because he and foes of his initiative have both challenged the ballot title prepared by the Attorney General’s Office.

Gov. Chris Gregoire signed into law the bill authorizing civil marriage for same-sex couples, SB6239, at 12:06 p.m. Monday, making Washington the seventh state with such a law.  It may not take effect on  June 7, as scheduled, however, as a referendum challenge is in the wind.

Several hundred cheering partisans, and one heckler, crowded into the ornate State Reception Room for bill-signing ceremonies.  Sen. Ed Murray and Rep. Jamie Pedersen, both Seattle Democrats, the prime sponsors and “out” gay men, spoke before Gregoire took the podium to loud cheers and the chant “Gregoire! Gregoire! Gregoire!”  She was flanked by many of the legislators who voted for the measure during the past two weeks. Crowds lined the balconies and steps of the Rotunda, watching on closed-circuit TV.

Gregoire, emotional at times, said it was a proud and defining moment for civil rights in Washington, and predicted that if the measure is placed on the ballot as a referendum, voters will uphold it, as they did R-71, the “everything but marriage” law in 2009 by a 53-47 margin.

Challengers attempted to file a ballot challenge before Gregoire had acted on the bill, and were to return later in the day.  Sponsors planned to return at 3:30 p.m. at the state elections division headquarters at 520 Union St., near the Capitol.

It takes 120,577 valid signatures of registered Washington voters to secure a place on the ballot. The Elections Division suggests submitting at least 150,000 to cover invalid or duplicate signatures.  The signature deadline is June 6.  If signatures are turned in, that suspends the new law from taking effect as scheduled on June 7.  If the challengers don’t turn in enough signatures, the marriage law would go into effect then. If the challengers qualify for the ballot, then the law would stay on hold until the Nov. 6 election and certification on Dec. 6.

Some FAQs: http://tinyurl.com/7drjq4c

 

2 Responses to “Gregoire OKs gay marriage; ballot challenge launched”

  1. Eric Musehl says:

    While I will not argue against the people who dislike civil marriages for gay people –
    (Although I think they are, humm, what do I say? Morons, fearful, jerks, close minded, unable to change, morons?) – for they get to hold their (outdated thinking, uncritical thinking, selfish, fearful, bully-like) views.

    What I do want to rally for is the idea that we elect people to the seats of power. Let them do their job. We voted them in, and they represent us. Let them vote for us. Why does everything need to come back to the voter. It doesn’t. Otherwise, we should just get rid of all of the politicians and just have every bill or measure get voted on by the people.

  2. Steve Lampert says:

    I sincerely hope that the haters lose and the law already passed stays forever in WA State. Can anyone marry now and wait for licensing in the meantime since it is the law now?

    Hooray for Governor Christine Gregoire, all of the supporters in Olympia and President Obama for lifting off DOMA!!!!!!

    This is my best birthday ever!!!!!!

    Thank you so much for all you have done for our community and the state and nation.

    Sincerely,

    Steve Lampert, B.A.A.P.
    Member APA & WPCA
    NCPT I & EKG Lab Tech
    JFS Volunteer
    HRC Volunteer
    To become Certified Counselor in March

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