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Gregoire OKs gay marriage; ballot challenge launched ?>

Gregoire OKs gay marriage; ballot challenge launched

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. (more…)