Referendum 74 is the new number for Washington’s gay marriage challenge filed by opponents of the new marriage law signed by the governor on Monday. It turns out that R-73 was assigned last spring to a campaign challenging last year’s medical marijuana law; nothing came of that effort.
The marriage referendum has been transmitted to the state Attorney General’s Office for preparation of a ballot title, 30-word concise description, a 75-word-limit ballot summary, and a question that clearly defines the intent of the voter. The attorneys will have five days to produce these. After that, anyone dissatisfied with the ballot title/summary has five days to seek review by the Thurston County Superior Court, which is required to “expeditiously” handle the challenge(s) and render a decision within five days. The decision of the court is final.
It’s likely to be early March before R-74 sponsors can print and circulate petitions. Their deadline for turning in at least 120,577 valid signatures is June 6. That is one day before the new law, SB6239, ordinarily would have taken effect. The submission of signatures suspends the law from taking effect until after signature verification and, if qualified with enough valid signatures, until the election is conducted this fall and certified by Dec. 6.
The text of R-74 will be the text of the law.
If it makes the ballot, voters will decide whether to affirm or reject the new law.