Backers of Ref. 74, the measure that would repeal the state's law making gay marriage legal starting in early June, say they have collected at least 150,000 signatures — more than enough to qualify for the ballot.
OLYMPIA — Opponents of gay marriage said Wednesday that they have reached the number of signatures needed to qualify a proposed referendum seeking to overturn a law legalizing gay marriage in Washington state, and could turn them in to the state as early as Tuesday, ahead of a June 6 deadline.
Joseph Backholm, with Preserve Marriage Washington, said the campaign for Referendum 74 has at least 150,000 signatures on hand. Backers of Ref. 74 need to turn in 120,577 valid voter signatures by Wednesday in order to qualify for the ballot. The Secretary of State’s Office recommends that campaigns submit about 150,000 signatures in order to provide a cushion for invalid or duplicate signatures.
“We feel that it’s going to be adequate to get it on the ballot,” he said. “We’re quite confident of that.”
Backholm said his group hopes to hit 200,000 signatures, and that it wants to turn the signatures in ahead of the deadline, possibly as early as Tuesday.
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National groups have already promised time and money to the effort, including the Washington, D.C.-based National Organization for Marriage, which was involved in ballot measures that overturned same-sex marriage in California and Maine.
Washington state has had domestic-partnership laws since 2007, and in 2009 passed an “everything but marriage” expansion of that law, which was ultimately upheld by voters after a referendum challenge. The Legislature approved gay marriage earlier this year, and Gov. Chris Gregoire signed the bill in February.
Gay marriage is legal in New York, Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and Washington, D.C. Maryland legalized gay marriage this year as well, though opponents there are promising to challenge it with a ballot measure and on Tuesday delivered more than twice the number of signatures required. Activists in Maryland say they submitted 113,000 signatures — double the 55,736 needed to put the issue on the ballot.